The Atlanta Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 (box score) on Saturday in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. The Braves and Brewers are now tied 1-1 in the best-of-five series, which will take Sunday off for travel purposes before reconvening in Atlanta on Monday.
The biggest story in Game 2 was the performance of Atlanta starter Max Fried. The lefty, in just his fifth career postseason start, stymied the Brewers over the course of six shutout innings. He allowed three hits and no walks, and he struck out nine of the 21 batters he faced.
Fried relied mostly on three pitches over the course of the game: his mid-90s fastball, slider, and signature curveball. Fried coerced whiffs on 12 of 38 swings, with his fastball and slider combining to account for 10 of those. All told, the Brewers posted an average exit velocity of 83 mph against him -- the lowest among qualified pitchers this season was 84.6 mph, belonging to Philadelphia Phillies ace Zack Wheeler.
Manager Brian Snitker, perhaps stinging from leaving Charlie Morton in too long in Game 1, then lifted Fried in the top of the seventh in favor of pinch-hitter Joc Pederson. Atlanta's bullpen provided plenty moments of drama, with Tyler Matzek and his plus breaking ball having to escape jams in the seventh and eighth innings. Will Smith then escaped a jam in the ninth after putting the first two runners on base. The Braves were able to keep the Brewers off the board, however, preventing a slew of second-guessing about whether or not Snitker pulled Fried too early.
Here are three other takeaways from Game 2.
Braves' offensive stars shine
Atlanta's bats were, by and large, quiet in their Game 1 loss, recording just one run on four hits. The Braves didn't enjoy an offensive outburst in Game 2, either, but they did provide enough to squeak out the win. And by "they," we mean the Braves' top offensive stars.
First baseman Freddie Freeman opened the scoring in the third inning with a single to right that plated Jorge Soler. Freeman then scored on a double by second baseman Ozzie Albies, giving Atlanta an early 2-0 lead. That would be all either side could muster until the sixth, when third baseman Austin Riley uncorked a solo shot.
The Braves had seven hits on the evening. Five of them were notched by the top four hitters in the lineup. Atlanta will undoubtedly want more in Game 3, but it was enough to secure the W on Saturday.
Adames made a spectacular catch
Brewers shortstop Willy Adames made his presence felt only three batters into Game 3. Ozzie Albies popped up a Brandon Woodruff fastball in foul territory in the first inning, and Adames ranged all the way over to make a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch near the tarp. Check it out:
Adames did well to track the ball, though it looks like he just flung his glove out at the last second, and the ball found it. The ball caught him as much as he caught the ball. It's better to be lucky than good, they say. Adames happens to be both.
It's now a best-of-three
The NLDS is now a best-of-three. The Brewers and Braves are tied at a game apiece heading back to Truist Park in Atlanta. At 51-30, the Brewers had one of the game's best road records this season. The Braves, meanwhile, where merely a tick better than .500 at home (42-38). Ian Anderson (9-5, 3.58 ERA) will get the ball for Atlanta and he was very strong in his only regular season start against the Brewers, allowing one run in six innings. The Brewers have not yet announced their Game 3 starter, though it will likely be righty Freddy Peralta (10-5, 2.81 ERA) over lefty Eric Lauer (7-5, 3.19 ERA). Game 3 is Monday.