The host Atlanta Braves hope to add to the St. Louis Cardinals’ offensive miseries when they send southpaw Max Fried to the mound on Friday for the second game of a four-game series.
The Braves blanked the Cardinals 4-0 on Thursday in the series opener behind the strong effort of Charlie Morton, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. That ended Atlanta’s two-game losing streak and broke St. Louis’ three-game winning streak.
It was the fourth time St. Louis has been shut out this season and the second time in five games. The Cardinals have scored only nine runs in their last six games.
Fried (3-4, 4.62 ERA) will be opposed by St. Louis right-hander Carlos Martinez (3-7, 5.82).
Fried will be making his third career appearance and second start against the Cardinals. He did not face St. Louis in 2020 but beat the Cardinals on June 30, 2018, by throwing 6 2/3 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts.
Fried took a loss in his last start, Saturday at Miami, when he allowed three runs in six innings.
“We’ve got to continue to prepare and play hard,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ve been through this all year. We’ve had to handle tough situations, and these guys have. We just haven’t gotten off the ground running for an extended period.”
Martinez threw seven strong innings in his last start, against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. He allowed two runs in a 2-0 loss, marking the fourth start he has lost when his team has scored one run or no runs behind him.
Martinez has lost three straight, and his ERA is inflated by the 10 runs he allowed in 2/3 inning June 2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I know we’re losing a lot of games right now,” Martinez said. “I’m a little bit frustrated right now and this team is, too. I believe in my team. I think we’re going to be better than this.”
Martinez is 3-1 with a 3.90 ERA in 11 career appearances, including four starts, against the Braves. He last pitched against the Braves during the 2019 N.L. Division Series, going 1-1 with a 14.73 ERA (six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings).
The Atlanta offense is sparked by right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. He went 1-for-2 with a walk on Thursday and has reached base in 25 straight games, the best active streak in the majors.
Both teams made pitching news on Thursday. The Cardinals signed veteran free agent Wade LeBlanc, a left-hander who began the season with Baltimore. He pitched to two batters on Thursday against the Braves, getting one out and allowing a hit. He is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in seven games.
St. Louis optioned right-hander Seth Elledge to Triple-A Memphis to make roster space.
The Braves recalled right-hander Jacob Webb and optioned lefty Kyle Muller to Triple-A Gwinnett. Webb is 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in 16 relief appearances for the Braves in 2021.
Muller made his major league debut on Wednesday night and is expected to start one of the games in Monday’s doubleheader against the New York Mets.
Atlanta also announced that ace Mike Soroka is making progress from the ruptured right Achilles tendon he sustained in August. He isn’t expected to be cleared to throw for least two weeks, but he remains hopeful he could return before the end of the season.
–Field Level Media