Braves bash 6 HRs in Fried's strong return

September 19th, 2020

Max Fried’s much-welcomed return from the injured list was celebrated by the Braves powering their way toward yet another double-digit run total in their 15-2 win over the Mets on Friday night at Citi Field.

The Braves produced yet another six-homer game in this latest victory and tallied their MLB-high ninth double-digit run total of the season.

“It was a good night,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Getting Max back, I think it made everybody feel good to see him back out on the mound.”

There has always been plenty to like about this offense, which was strengthened by the recent return of Ozzie Albies, who backed Fried with his fifth career multihomer performance.

But the Braves’ World Series hopes rest on the success of Fried, who allowed one run over five innings while making his first start before his lower back tightened during his Sept. 5 start against the Nationals. The lefty has a stellar 1.96 ERA through 10 starts.

Here are three takeaways from a win that featured plenty to digest.

Fried’s velocity: In keeping the Mets scoreless until the fifth, Fried showed that he can continue to be effective without his normal velocity. But it’s still necessary to point out that his four-seam fastball averaged 92.1 mph -- higher than the 90.9 average he produced during the Sept. 5 outing, but lower than the 93.4 mph average generated through his first eight starts.

“I thought his velocity was fine,” Snitker said. “He pitched. I’d rather he pitch at 92 or 93 than just throw at 98. He feels great. We had some long innings offensively, and he had to work a lot. But I think more than anything, he sat in the dugout a lot. So it was good to get him through five innings.”

Cole Hamels is accelerating his preparations for the postseason, and the Braves are hoping that both Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright will continue to grow over the next couple weeks. But this rotation will continue to rely on Fried, who will make one more regular-season start before likely getting the ball in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series.

Albies’ impact: Throughout the franchise’s long history, the Braves had never hit six or more homers in a game twice in one season. They have now done so in two of the nine games played since Albies returned from missing a little more than a month with a right bone bruise.

Albies has hit .378 with four homers and a 1.167 OPS since being activated from the injured list. The Braves scored 29 runs the night he returned, and they have tallied at least seven runs in five of the nine games played with him occupying the ninth spot in their deep lineup.

“When you have the reigning NL hits leader hitting ninth, your lineup is pretty deep,” Fried said. “He’s had some time off, so he’s just getting back into it. But you’re seeing what he can do at any given time. He’s an extremely special player.”

Acuña halts skid: Marcell Ozuna’s two-run shot off Steven Matz in the second inning was his 15th homer. Freddie Freeman has continued to strengthen his MVP candidacy. The Braves' lineup is filled with potent weapons, but there’s no doubt this offense is at its best when Ronald Acuña Jr. is in one of his grooves.

Acuña's leadoff double off Matz in the first inning halted a skid in which he had gone 1-for-21 with 13 strikeouts over the past six games. The 22-year-old outfielder also increased his homer total to 12 when he went back-to-back with Albies in the sixth.

“Maybe [Thursday’s off-day] was good for him because he just let his mind rest a little bit,” Snitker said. “From the first at-bat, he was a lot more aggressive and on the attack. That was good to see.”