On Thursday night, the Atlanta Braves had a prime opportunity to finish off the Los Angeles Dodgers and advance to the World Series.
The Braves entered the game up 3-1 in the series, and a victory would have eliminated the Dodgers.
Atlanta had one of its best pitchers on the mound, Max Fried, ready to do his homework and send the Braves to their first Fall Classic since 1999.
After all, Fried had been the best pitcher in baseball judging by ERA over the second half, with 1.74.
He had been an absolute stud in August and September, and had thrown 12 postseason innings with only two earned runs allowed over two games prior to Thursday’s game.
The scene was set for the Braves to take advantage of Fried’s good run.
Fried Failed To Finish The Dodgers
However, it wasn’t meant to be, as the southpaw failed to live up to the moment and lost Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
He couldn’t complete five innings, hurling 4.2, and surrendered five earned runs.
It was a clear step back from the six shutout innings he hurled against Milwaukee in the Division Series and the six frames, two-run outing against the Dodgers earlier in the NLCS.
Max Fried gave out 60 tix so his friends could witness a Pollock bomb. pic.twitter.com/j8wBk3YYBr
— Klein25 (@Klein25) October 22, 2021
But the traffic on the bases was just too much to overcome.
Over his 4.2 innings, Fried conceded eight hits and two walks, and was only able to strike out three.
His command just wasn’t there, and Dodgers’ hitters had no issues squaring up the ball against Fried.
Max Fried is missing a lot of spots. The Dodgers just aren’t missing so far tonight.
AJ Pollock, Albert Pujols and Chris Taylor all single.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) October 22, 2021
Now, the series is 3-2 in favor of the Braves, who are still in excellent position to get at least one win in their home park over the weekend to secure their ticket to the World Series.
However, the Dodgers remain a very powerful team, with a forward-thinking approach and modern in-game managing strategies.
They showed with their 11-2 win in Game 5 that they have what it takes to turn around the series.
The Dodgers Are Very Much Alive
We don’t need to go too far to find the last team in MLB able to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the series 4-3 and advance to the World Series: yes, these Dodgers did it last year, against these Braves.
So even though Atlanta is the clear favorite at this point, nothing is set in stone.
Los Angeles should get a lot of credit for battering a top pitcher like Fried on Thursday.
After all, not only was Fried a monster in the second half and in the playoffs: he was, also, one of the best and most consistent pitchers in the NL.
It is not a coincidence that he finished the regular season with a 3.04 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 28 starts.
Not that wins matter too much these days, but the fact that Fried won half of his starts (14-7 record) is certainly noteworthy.
The Braves, and Fried, couldn’t get the job done on Thursday.
Will they regret it when everything is said and done?
We will find out over the weekend as these two fantastic teams clash again in Atlanta.NEXT: Braves Looking To Bury Dodgers Behind Max Fried