Fried teases perfection AGAIN with CG gem as big bats mash

May 23rd, 2024

CHICAGO -- has spent these past few weeks regularly flirting with no-hitters and reminding the baseball world why he will be one of next winter’s top free agents.

Fried carried his latest no-hit bid into the sixth inning and benefited from three home runs as the Braves claimed a 9-2 win over the Cubs on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. The veteran southpaw has kept his opponent hitless through the first five innings in three of his past five starts.

“When he’s not doing well, he knows how to fix it really quick,” Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “He knows himself as a pitcher and he doesn’t try to do too much. I think those are the characteristics of an ace and he’s definitely an ace.”

Fried validated this belief as he limited the Cubs to two runs -- one earned -- and three hits while becoming the first MLB pitcher to record two complete games this season. Two of the hits he surrendered were recorded in the eighth inning, with one of those being an infield single.

“Tonight, I wanted to make it a point of emphasis to go after hitters, get early contact and be more of the aggressor, rather than trying to make the perfect pitch on the corners,” Fried said.

Fried needed just 53 pitches to cruise through the first five innings in perfect fashion. His bid for history ended when Ian Happ began the sixth inning with a double. But the lefty still made it a night to remember as he tossed his second complete game within his past six starts.

The Braves had a seven-run lead and Fried threw 96 pitches through the first eight innings. But manager Brian Snitker knew what it would mean to let his veteran finish what he started. He also took into account that Fried had thrown just 88 pitches during his last start and he’ll get an extra day of rest leading into Tuesday’s start against the Nationals.

“He’s upfront with me,” Snitker said. “When he came out in the eighth, I talked to him and he said, ‘I feel great.’”

Fried needed just nine more pitches to get through the ninth and put a bow on this 105-pitch effort. It wasn’t the Maddux (shutout with fewer than 100 pitches) he threw against the Marlins on April 23. But it was exactly what the Braves needed to rest the bullpen, which had been taxed by three straight starts of fewer than five innings prior to Monday’s doubleheader.

“I pride myself on going deep into games,” Fried said. “The nights when you’re efficient and you’re not wasting pitches, it’s more just about putting your foot on the gas pedal and just keep it going, rather than thinking about it or waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Fried benefited from home runs by Adam Duvall, Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olson. Ozuna has a National League-leading 15, but this powerful lineup has lacked the pop it had while tying an MLB record with 307 homers last year.

The Braves are now one of 10 teams to have at least six three-homer games this year. They did so 44 times last season, 10 more times than any other MLB club.

Seeing the Braves hit a bunch of homers was commonplace last year. Watching Fried dominate opponents has recently been the more common activity.

Wednesday’s no-hit bid was actually broken up earlier than the two others the Braves southpaw carried into the second half of games over the past few weeks.

Fried tossed six hitless innings against the Mariners on April 29. That combined no-hit bid ended in the eighth. The Braves ace kept the Mets hitless before exiting at the end of the seventh on May 11. J.D. Martinez’s two-out homer in the ninth ended that combined no-hit bid.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” d’Arnaud said. “Fortunately, I get to witness it and be a part of it. I think him understanding his delivery so well is a big part of it. Being able to put his fastball where he wants to opens every other offspeed pitch.”

Fried had another great night with his breaking pitches. The Cubs whiffed with seven of 14 swings against his curveball and with seven of 11 swings against his slider.

At the same time, he had another great night at the place where he made his first MLB start on Sept. 3, 2017. He is now 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four starts at Wrigley Field.

“I love pitching here,” Fried said. “You get on the field and you can feel the history. This is where I made my first big league start. So, I think there’s always something a little sentimental about it. Every time I come out here, it feels pretty good.”