With Ronald Acuña Jr., Freeman and Marcell Ozuna once again filling the top three spots of their lineup, the Braves enjoyed an immediate offensive eruption. But the three-run first they constructed seemed to be a distant memory at the end of a 14-8 loss to the Marlins, who tortured Fried and celebrated Adam Duvall’s return to Atlanta on Tuesday night at Truist Park.
Fried allowed a career-high eight runs -- seven earned -- and nine hits over just four innings. And to make matters worse, he tweaked his right hamstring while running from second to third base after hitting a double in the fourth. It was already known he wouldn’t return to pitch the fifth, but with a short bench, the Braves sent their ace to the plate and were given further reason to hope the universal designated hitter returns next year.
As Fried spoke late Tuesday night, he hadn’t received results of an MRI exam. But he had time to think about how frustrating it had been to allow the Marlins six two-out hits. Three of those hits led to two runs in the three-run second, which began with Brian Anderson homering against an elevated 1-2 fastball. The inning was also extended by Miguel Rojas tallying a two-out RBI double against an 0-2 curveball.
“Tonight was just all about not being able to put them away with two strikes and making that mistake and getting beat on it,” Fried said. “On top of that, just not getting that third out. There were a lot of two-out hits.”
Fried surrendered a home run and two-run double to Duvall, who produced a Marlins record seven RBIs during his four-hit barrage. The veteran outfielder spent the past three seasons playing for Atlanta.
“Excruciating is what it was like,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said when asked what it was like to be on the other side of Duvall’s performance. “I wish he would have done it against somebody else. We’ve seen him do that here with the year we had last year. I mean, it can come in bunches for him. We didn’t pitch him good at all.”
Duvall capped his two-homer performance with a three-run shot in the seventh against Grant Dayton. Duvall finished two RBIs shy of the career-best total he produced while helping the Braves claim a 29-9 win over the Marlins on Sept. 9, 2020.
Coincidentally, that was the same day Freeman moved into the Braves’ second spot on a permanent basis last year. It looked like Tuesday’s return to the two hole might have a similar effect when he doubled ahead of home runs hit by both Ozuna and Ozzie Albies in the first.
But after seeing his offense rattle Pablo Lopez early, Fried surrendered four hits, including Lopez’s two-out double, in Miami’s three-run second. The Braves lefty ultimately unraveled after he retired the first two batters he faced in the fourth and then five straight batters reached base, including two who were hit by a pitch.
“It's just something he's gonna have to work through,” Snitker said. “He’s got to be aggressive and be on the attack. His stuff is too good. Maybe he’s giving the hitters too much credit.”
Fried finished fifth in last year’s National League Cy Young Award balloting after posting a 2.25 ERA over 11 starts. He didn’t allow more than three runs or five hits in any of those outings. In fact, he entered Tuesday having never allowed more than five runs in any of his 69 career appearances.
But this is two shaky outings in a row for Fried, who allowed five runs in just two innings against the Nationals last week. His fastball velocity is normal, and he got a whiff with six of the 13 swings he induced with his slider. His curveball has been a little more inconsistent than normal, but for the most part, there hasn’t been one glaring weakness.
“I think it was just the consistency and execution,” Fried said. “I’d throw some really good curveballs and sliders and fastballs and be able to execute it early in the counts. When I needed it with two strikes, whether it was misplaced or misexecuted, I wasn’t able to put it in the right spots.”