Champions are made from games like these. The Braves made no mistakes, played superb defense, got clutch hits, and perfect bullpen support. Everyone that contributed did so in clutch form. The Braves got three hits – 2 homers and a single. Fortunately the single came right before the 2nd homer. And that was that for the offense.
I SO want Max Fried to pitch great. Shaky at times but he really battled (I hate that damn cliche but I don’t know how better to say it). Unfortunately, the Cubs threw a rookie, Adbert Alzolay (2nd start), who the Braves could not touch at all. After a 1st inning, 1st pitch homer by Ronald, the Braves got nothing, did nothing for six innings (including the 1st).
Fried relied on offspeed stuff and a lotta luck to make it through 6 innings. The luckiest part was in the 2nd, after he walked the bases loaded, The Cubs ran themselves into one of the most unique DP’s I’ve ever seen. After Adbert missed a bunt attempt, Baez got caught off 3rd. BMac tagged him so quickly that he was able to throw back to Dansby at 3rd to get Contreras trying to advance. Fried got out into it and out of it without so much as a foul ball. He lost the luck in the 4th when Contreras hit a 2-run double to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Both pitchers had bouts of pure wildness where they just couldn’t throw any strikes. The Braves finally chased Adbert in the 5th with walks and patience. Unfortunately, the Braves left the bases loaded as Dansby grounded out.
Fried found something after that 2-run double and was brilliant for two more innings. Looking at it in reverse, his 2-hit, 2-run, 6-inning performance turned out mighty good, even great. The Braves, meanwhile, got no hits after that Acuna HR. Finally, off of Mike Montgomery, Ozzie hit a 1st pitch bomb to RCF after BMac singled to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Why does anyone throw a LHP against Ozzie? Even beyond that why does any LHP throw a strike to Ozzie on the first pitch?
Now it was bullpen time. And it was Return of the Newk. What a treat to see Newcomb come in and blow the Cubs away in the 7th. Unfortunately, Newk couldn’t replicate in the 8th and gave up two singles to open the inning. Our newest hero came in, the General, and was brilliant in his own right getting the best Cubs hitters, Bryant and Rizzo, to hit into a GIDP and strikeout to end the threat.
No one at Braves Journal was looking forward to seeing Luke in the 9th. I have no idea what he ate for breakfast, but Luke was amazing, too. After Mr. Clutch, who came in just for defense tonight, made a sliding catch in LF, Luke struck out the next two batters to win the game. Even the three balls he threw to Bote before striking him out were pitches he executed perfectly. I think Luke executed every pitch he threw perfectly. This game was worth watching what an elite bullpen can do. This team played clutch championship baseball tonight.