Tonight’s big storyline is about the battle of aces on the mound. Since Fried has come back from the injured list, he has a 3.10 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 40.1 innings. It’s more than enough with how good the Atlanta Braves offense is.
On the Philadelphia Phillies side, it’s Zack Wheeler, who had the best start from the team this season in Atlanta earlier this year. He threw eight shutout innings with twelve strike-outs back on May 27.
Rob Thomson made some tweaks to the lineup, swapping Alec Bohm to three and Harper to four because Fried is a left-hander. In addition, he starts both Cristian Pache and Johan Rojas in the outfield (I don’t think many people want to see Jake Cave play tonight).
Wheeler had to work really hard to get the final out of the second. After a groundout to third from Marcell Ozuna and a line out to right by Travis d’Arnaud, Eddie Rosario slapped a single into right.
Orlando Arcia then worked a seven-pitch walk to put runners on first and second. Michael Harris fouled off three pitches before striking out on a fastball. The problem was that Wheeler threw 47 pitches through two innings and wouldn’t be able to go deep.
The Phillies made the Braves pay for not taking advantage. Nick Castellanos took a fastball on the outside part of the plate to right center field for a 1-0 lead.
The Braves responded in the fourth with Matt Olson. He has such easy power to take Wheeler’s fastball to left field to tie the game.
Fried got himself into his own two-out situation in the bottom half. Bryce Harper walked on four pitches, followed by a JT Realmuto single to put runners on first and second. Castellanos worked a two-two count before a very good changeup got off the end of his bat for a fly out to left.
It didn’t take long for the Braves to make them pay. Michael Harris took a first-pitch fastball to left field for a leadoff single.
Ronald Acuña Jr. kept himself in the MVP race after taking a hanging curveball to left to make it 3-1.
Their threat continued with a single by Austin Riley, barely getting past a diving Trea Turner. Olson then worked a five-pitch walk. Wheeler was bleeding velocity at this point with multiple fastballs at about 93 mph.
Ozuna got one of them and did not miss it. They scored five in the fifth without breaking a sweat.
Wheeler was done after five with a tough performance. The Braves lineup is without question the best in baseball and they looked like it.
Fried had a different night however. He got himself into a jam in the fifth with a Johan Rojas single and a Kyle Schwarber walk with two outs.
Trea Turner came up but Fried got him with an inside fastball after setting him up with slow breaking balls.
He was pulled after five innings since he’s still working back and with their large lead. Michael Tonkin came back out for his second inning of work and ran into some two-out trouble.
Rojas chopped a ball so high, Riley didn’t need to make any attempt before it went into left field for a double. Turner smoked a ball to second and Ozzie Albies just couldn’t make an impressive snag. Tonkin held onto their now 6-2 lead with a strikeout to Bohm.
Joe Jiménez came in for the eighth to keep the Braves lead. Bryce Harper took his first pitch fastball to the bullpen for a solo blast. It’s also career hit number 1500.
Things kept getting interesting. With one out, Nick Castellanos slapped a single into left for a single. Bryson Stott, who came into the game earlier for Edmundo Sosa, worked a six-pitch at-bat, fouling off multiple two-strike pitches. He got a fastball down the middle and made it a one-run game.
Jiménez was done and in came AJ Minter for the bottom of the order. Despite the platoon, Rob Thomson brought Brandon Marsh off the bench to face the tough lefty (they would’ve just kept Jiménez in for Pache), and he struck out on a four-seam fastball.
Rojas battled back from a one-two count to work a two-out walk to bring up Kyle Schwarber. He stole second base almost immediately. Schwarber got a nasty two-strike cutter and struck out to end the threat.
José Alvarado pitched a great top of the ninth to keep the Braves lead at one
Raisel Iglesias came in for the bottom half to face Turner, Bohm, and Harper. Turner battled back from a two-strike count before getting a fastball right down the middle and he did not miss it.
With the game tied, Bohm worked a tough at-bat before poking a slider to right for a single.
Harper started the at-bat with two strikes on him but worked the count full before pulling a fastball right over the head of Albies into right field.
With runners on first and second, JT Realmuto struck out on three pitches. Nick Castellanos took a first-pitch fastball right to third base for an inning-ending double play.
Craig Kimbrel came in for the tenth. D’arnaud chopped a ball to Turner that allowed the ghost runner to go to third.
After a first-pitch curveball to Rosario, seven straight fastballs were called, and he slapped the last one into right field to make it 7-6. Orlando Arcia and Harris flew out to left to end the inning.
Former Phillie, Brad Hand came in for the Braves to face Stott, Marsh, and Rojas.
Stott started the inning with a grounder to first that allowed Castellanos to go to third. Marsh couldn’t handle Hand’s sweeper and missed three of them. Johan Rojas was their last chance but he popped out to second base on a sweeper.
Tomorrow night is Spencer Strider, the NL leader in strikeouts against Cristopher Sánchez for the finale of this four-game series. The Braves would clinch the division title with a win tomorrow.