Game 2 wasn’t the outing that Fried was looking for.
After struggling in his final start of the NLCS, Max Fried was looking to bounce back in his first appearance in the World Series. However, things didn’t go according to plan as the Astros scored five times off Fried through the first two innings. The four-run second was fueled by bad luck and a defensive miscue. Still, the results weren’t what Fried or the Braves were hoping for.
“Obviously, I’m not happy about it,” Fried said of his outing. “Playoffs is a big momentum game. You got to do everything you can to keep the crooked number off the scoreboard. At the end of the day, they put up four runs in that inning. You need to do better next time, just making pitches, getting out of it.”
One key moment in that second inning came when Yuli Gurriel beat the shift on what could possibly have been a double play grounder if the defense had been positioned more traditionally.
“It’s baseball. Sometimes the ball gets hit and goes right to a guy,” Fried said of Gurriel’s hit. “Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it finds a hole. He did a really good job of seeing where we were positioned and staying inside of it and being able to beat it. Sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat.”
The Braves have shifted heavily during the second half of the season and played a big part in their win in Game 1. However, no one really talks about the shift when it works.
Fried’s stuff was good but his command could have been better, which was a similar situation to his start in Game 5 in Los Angeles. He averaged 94.3 mph on his four seamer and maxed out at 96.9 mph. However, the pitch produced just one swing and miss per Baseball Savant.
“Good team. They were ready for the fastball,” Fried said. “Probably could have put it in some better spots, maybe elevated a little bit better. For me, my fastball is not something I’m looking to get swing and misses a ton on. It’s more of a ground ball pitch for me. Sometimes they get it when I’m able to elevate and change speeds, but it wasn’t great swing-and-miss pitching tonight.”
Despite his second inning troubles, Fried settled in and retired 10 straight before walking Yordan Alvarez to begin the sixth. Carlos Correa followed with a single ending Fried’s night after 86 pitches. He allowed seven hits, six runs and struck out six over five-plus innings. It is a loss but that he was able to cover five full innings could have huge ramifications for the Braves as the series continues.
“Yeah, that’s terrific for him to be able to get into the sixth there, especially after they were able to score the runs they did,” Travis d’Arnaud said when asked about Fried settling in. “It gave our bullpen the rest they needed after yesterday with the bullpen game.”
Despite the loss, the Braves are in a good position after getting a split in Houston with Games 3, 4 and 5 back in Atlanta.
“Tomorrow’s an off day, which is big for the bullpen,” d’Arnaud said. “I’m excited to work with Ian for Game 3. He’s going to be ready to go. He gets to pitch at home. I mean, like I said, I can’t wait to get back home. Our bullpen guys are all ready. They want the ball in the biggest moments regardless of how much they threw yesterday or today.”
After losing Charlie Morton in Game 1, the Braves need Fried at his best for the remainder of the series. Hopefully that stretch between the second and sixth innings are a sign that he figured some things out.
“I came out, and we were losing, we were down big, so I’m not happy about it,” Fried said in closing. “For me, at the end of the day, it’s kind of what I’ve said here: If I’m leaving the game and we’re winning, I did my job. Today I didn’t do that.”