The Atlanta Braves will call on left-hander Max Fried to push the club one step closer to its fourth straight National League East championship when they host the Philadelphia Phillies in the second game of a three-game series.
Atlanta (84-72) has won four in a row and stretched its lead over Philadelphia (81-76) to 3 1/2 games with Tuesday’s 2-1 win. Atlanta’s magic number is three, and the Braves would clinch the division with a sweep.
“Right now, we’ve got five games to play and they’re all huge,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Getting that first win of a big series is big, and hopefully Max does what he’s capable of doing.”
Fried (13-7, 3.12 ERA) will face Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (9-8, 4.64) on Wednesday.
Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi admitted the Phillies were in a hole, but wasn’t ready to concede.
“You’ve got to keep grinding. That’s all you can do,” Girardi said. “We’ve got to find a way to win (Wednesday) and go from there. We need some help now. We need a good game out of Nola and we need to score some runs.”
Fried will be making his 28th start of the season. He has won six straight dating back to Aug. 3. Fried has put together back-to-back scoreless efforts, going seven innings against San Francisco on Sept. 19 and firing a complete-game shutout on 98 pitches against San Diego on Friday.
Nola will be making his 32nd start of the season. He has won his last two starts, but did not pitch well in his last appearance on Thursday against Pittsburgh. He allowed six runs in six innings, but got the win after the Phillies rallied from a six-run deficit for a 12-6 win.
Nola is 12-7 with a 3.28 ERA against the Braves in 24 career starts. He has started against them four times this season, going 1-1 with a 4.44 ERA. His last start against the Braves came on July 25 when he pitched 8 2/3 innings and allowed one run and struck out nine.
The Philadelphia offense continues to struggle. The Phillies have scored three or fewer runs in six of their last nine games. They broke a 20-inning scoreless streak by getting an unearned run in the ninth inning on Tuesday, their longest scoreless streak since 2018.
Since July 1, the Phillies are 39-8 when they score at least four runs. They are 5-27 when they score three or fewer runs and have lost 17 of the last 19 when doing so.
Atlanta continues to ride closer Will Smith in the ninth inning. He’s saved the last three games, giving him 36, but not without drama. He struck out the side in the ninth on Saturday to beat the Padres. He struck out the side again on Sunday, but loaded the bases with walks with one out before escaping.
On Tuesday he wiggled his way out of another bases-loaded jam, although the situation was created when left fielder Eddie Rosario had a fly ball clank off his glove.
“Will’s done a great job,” Snitker said. “He’s done awesome. The last three games he’s done nothing but answer the phone and deliver. I can’t see anything but positive in what Will’s doing. He takes the ball. He pitches.”
–Field Level Media