The Braves had a golden opportunity to jump all over the Astros and take a 2-0 lead in the World Series. Their ace Max Fried was on the mound against Jose Urquidy, who was shelled in his only postseason appearance to date. However, on Wednesday night, it was Urquidy that looked like the ace, while Fried delivered his second straight underwhelming postseason outing. Now the Astros have the momentum, but the series shifts to Truist Park for the next three games, where the Braves have yet to lose in the postseason, and there were still a couple of positives for the Braves to takeaway from yesterday’s disappointing loss.
Max Fried found his groove after the second inning
The Astros did most of their damage off Max Fried in the first two innings, scoring five runs, but they didn’t come off a bunch of hard-hit balls. Jose Altuve smacked a double to begin the game, and Houston played a little ABC baseball to bring him in. The rest of the runs came in the second when five singles led to four runs. By my count, only two of those hits were legit. The rest were shift beaters and infield singles. Still, they counted, but what’s even more interesting is what happened next.
For the second straight outing, I’ve had multiple people mention that Max Fried was tipping his pitches. Out of the stretch, he was fluttering his glove a bunch, which is supposed to prevent his pitches from being tipped. However, it didn’t appear to work. Once he stopped fluttering his glove in the third inning and beyond, the Astros looked helpless against Fried. He went on to record ten straight outs before letting a couple of baserunners reach in the sixth inning and exiting the game.
Now, I can’t confirm that the Astros knew what was coming, but judging by how abysmal the Houston offense looked once he stopped fluttering his glove, there definitely could be something to this, especially when the same thing was recognized during his last outing against the Dodgers. If that’s the case, and the Braves now realize it, Fried might look like his old-self next time he’s on the mound.
Dylan Lee and Kyle Wright looked like they can contribute
With Charlie Morton now out for the season, the Braves are going to need pitching help from some unlikely heroes, and Brian Snitker may have found a couple of guys he can trust later in the series last night.
Dylan Lee looked pretty good in his first postseason appearance against the Dodgers in the NLCS. He followed that up with another solid inning of relief last night. Snitker turned to him in a pretty high leverage situation. The Braves were trailing by just three with two men on and nobody out, and Lee held the damage to just one while having to get four outs, thanks to an error on Ozzie Albies on what could have been an inning-ending double play. I expect to see much more of Lee over the course of this series, especially in Games 4 and 5, which could be pitched primarily by the bullpen.
Another pleasant surprise was Kyle Wright. He came in during mop-up duty, with the Braves trailing by five in the eighth inning, but he looked unhittable, striking out the side quickly. I mean, seriously, if you had gone for a bathroom break and come back, you would have had no idea what happened. It was that dominant. The Braves will need some length in Games 4 and 5, and while I never would have guessed it before the series, perhaps Kyle Wright can be that guy.