MILWAUKEE – Max Fried says his strategy for dealing with pressure situations is to downplay them.
The strategy worked wonders for the southpaw in the regular season, and it’s paying off for the Braves in the playoffs.
Fried shone in six innings and the bullpen barely held out to agree with Brian Snitker for retiring his starter early from the game. The Atlanta Braves beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Saturday and tied the NL Division Series.
“He was phenomenal, he did everything we would have wanted,” teammate Austin Riley, who hit a home run in the sixth inning, said of Fried. “He came in, he hit the strike zone. He’s done it since the All-Star break.”
Once Fried left, the Braves struggled further.
The Brewers posted the potential tying run in each of the last three innings, but failed to land a timely hit.
Ozzie Albies added an RBI double for the Braves, who bounced back after losing the first game 2-1.
Tied 1-1, the series heads to Atlanta for Game 3, which will take place on Monday.
Fried struck out nine, allowed three hits and did not walk. The Brewers didn’t put a single running back in scoring position until Willy Adames doubled with two outs in the sixth inning.
And Fried responded by striking out Venezuelan Eduardo Escobar.
“He’s a really good pitcher who takes a lot of pitches,” said Craig Counsell, the Brewers manager. “When he pitches, it portends a tough night for hitters.”
The left-hander was 7-0 with a 1.46 ERA during his last 11 starts in the regular season. Counting Saturday’s performance, Fried has received just one earned run in 29 innings over his last four starts.
“You just try to focus and realize that we play the same sport all year,” Fried said. “There may be a little bit more at stake in the playoffs, but you have to go out there and do the pitch that you’re supposed to throw. That’s what settles things.”
This was the second exceptional start by a Braves starter in a series dominated by pitching.
Charlie Morton did not allow Milwaukee to run for six innings of Friday’s game. However, he was homered by Rowdy Tellez in the seventh inning, hitting his 85th and final pitch.
Snitker made sure Fried didn’t go that far. He had thrown 81 pitches and was replaced by a batter in the top of the seventh inning.
The decision was on the verge of paying Atlanta two additional races. Pinch-hitter Joc Pederson singled and Jorge Soler hit a long hit that left fielder Christian Yelich caught off the wall.
Then the Brewers made the game interesting against the bullpen, but the Braves came out ahead.
For the Braves, Cuban Soler 5-1 with a run scored. Puerto Rican Eddie Rosario 4-1.
For the Brewers, the Dominican Adames 4-1. Venezuelans Escobar 4-0, Avisaíl García 4-1, Manny Piña 2-0. The Mexican Luis Urías 4-2.