It was Hispanic Heritage night at Truist Park on Friday night, el diez y seis de Septiembre. Fittingly, William Contreras and Ronald Acuña Jr, two young sons of Venezuela who were born within a week of each other in December 1997, led the way to a stirring comeback victory.
Ronald’s ailing knee has improved enough that he has played in the field the past couple of games. That improvement in his knee led to the Braves first run. Because RAJ did not have to be the DH, Contreras was. And through the first seven innings, William had the Braves’ only two hits. One of those was a solo home run in the 4th inning that tied the game at 1.
Varsity Fried was on the hill and was perfect through the first three. But he surrendered a leadoff home run in the 4th to Schwarber on a 3-2 pitch, the tenth pitch of the AB. Max surrendered another solo homer in the 5th to give the Phils the lead again.
It stayed 2-1 until the bottom of the 8th. The Braves hitters, other than Contreras, continued to be mired in their recent funk. But Eddie Rosario, pinch hitting to lead off the inning, drew a walk. RAJ promptly drove one over the right field wall to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. They poured it on from that point, scoring four more, including a run scoring single by Contreras, an RBI hit by Michael Harris II (he’s not Hispanic, but he’s pretty fantastico), and a bloop double by Ozzie Albies that drove in two more.
Yes, Ozzie is back! I hadn’t realized how much I missed his presence until I saw him back on the field. He was greeted by a rousing standing ovation in his first at bat. The count went to 3-2, and then he took called third strike. That’s not a good thing, of course, but I think it’s a good sign that he wasn’t hacking at everything they threw up there.
Max only gave up the two runs on four hits. Even so, it’s fair to say that he wasn’t sharp; he gave up two homers for the second game in a row, and his command was a little off throughout. But Max’s will and concentration is as strong as a field of onions. After the Segura shot in the 5th, he gave up two soft singles, putting runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs and Schwarber coming to the plate. Max fell behind 3-1, and even a small mistake could have allowed the Phils to bust the game open. But he blew a fastball by Schwarber to make it 3-2, and he got him swinging on a looping curve to hold it to a 2-1 game.
In the top of the 6th, Max surrendered a leadoff walk to Bohm, and with two outs he walked Segura on a 3-2 count. I was certain Snit would turn to the pen—Fried was up to 107 pitches. But Snit trusts Max, and I guess I should too. He induced an inning ending groundout to first to keep it at 2-1. Fried finished with 110 pitches; that’s the most pitches he’s ever thrown in a big league game (according to Chip). Sixty-two of those pitches were strikes. I wasn’t a math major, but I think that means he threw 48 balls. I’m pretty confident that’s the most balls he’s ever tossed in a start. Now, to be fair, a not insignificant number of those pitches that were called balls would have been strikes if a competent umpire, human or robot, had been calling them.
The home plate ump was indeed terrible. Ronald struck out in the third. Strike two was a called strike completely off the plate outside. Strike three was a called strike completely off the plate inside. Fortunately, he got his revenge in the 8th.
Not to be overlooked in this thrilling victory was the excellent work of the bullpen. McHugh, Lee, Chavez, and Iglesias combined for three scoreless innings in relief.
I’ve got to say, me encanta este equipo.
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I’ve remained confident and optimistic about this team all along. That’s partly my nature, but it’s also an artifact of the night that I do recaps. The Braves are now 20-4 on Fridays for the season. Tonight was their 12th Friday win in a row. As I said before, I’m not suggesting a causal relationship, but perhaps I should start recapping day games and the final games of series.
My wife and I will be there in person tomorrow night, September 17, which is Constitution Day in the United States. I believe another victory would, among other things, form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. It could also put the Braves back in a tie for first if the Mets would just lose to the Pirates. Odorizzi goes against Nola. On paper, you don’t like those odds, but then again, the odds that the document signed by those 39 men on September 17, 1787, would still be around 235 years later weren’t so good either.