Atlanta – The goalless inning continued to accumulate, along with strikeouts. Shadows began to creep into the infield, and when the lights went on in a nearly empty stadium for a post-season match that began shortly after noon, it looked like it could go on forever.
Finally, Freddie Freeman had seen enough.
The MVP nominee who fended off a frightening coronavirus bout earlier in this more unusual season conveniently delivered the winning shot in the 13th inning, ending the longest goalless duel in post-season history when the Atlanta Braves drew defeated the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 in Wednesday’s opening of their wild card streak in NL.
“It’s been a very stressful 4 and a half hours,” Freeman said with a chuckle.
The Eastern Braves champion has won a post-season debut game for the first time since the first game of the 2001 NL Division series. playoffs.
“We’re a long way from winning it,” said Atlanta star Max Fried, who went seven innings goalless and was just 7 the last time the Braves won a playoff series. “I feel really good tomorrow.”
What began as a showdown between Cy Young Fried contenders and Cincinnati ace Trevor Bauer turned into a strikeout contest played in front of a handful of family and friends at Truist Park.
The teams joined for a post-season record 37K – 21 by the Braves.
After a couple of shots in the 13th against Archie Bradley, Freeman brought one to the center of the field from Amir Garrett against a five-man home field with one knocked out to end a match that dragged on for more than 4.5 hours.
Four times All-Star, Freeman produced another great year in a shortened pandemic season after a battle with COVID-19 in July so severe that he said he prayed, “Please don’t catch me.”
In 13, he arrived in a situation that he likes.
“This is the guy we want up there,” said manager Brian Snitker.
AJ Minter escaped a jam with bases loaded on top in 13th for the win: The third inning in a row the Reds pushed a runner to the third but failed to carry him another 90 feet.
“These guys are so proud to get over these situations,” said Reds manager David Bell, “Whenever we had the opportunity, we believed it would happen.”
While there is no denying that the historic nature of the first post-season match is goalless after 11 innings, it hardly qualified as a masterpiece that resulted in an unprecedented day of eight playoff games.
With the runner designated on second base no longer in play for post-season matches, two teams that rely heavily on the long ball took turns simply waving towards the plate, passing several opportunities to bite the runners.
Mostly, they raised nothing but a stiff breeze.
“We are a great swinging team,” Snitker said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t happen.”
Bauer certainly lived up to his billing as one of baseball’s top pitchers. The blunt right became the first pitcher in big league history to record 12 strikeouts with no walks, no runs and two or fewer hits in a post-season start.
Bauer was relieved after retiring the top two batters in the eighth, making the Braves cut on his way to the bench.
“I brought my game ‘A’ and all,” Bauer said. “I was exhausted.”
The Braves’ only real threat against Bauer came in sixth place, when Ronald Acuña Jr. opened with a brace on the wall in the center and moved up to third place over Freeman. The NL home run and RBI king Marcell Ozuna went out behind home plate and Travis d’Arnaud scored.
Fried went almost step-by-step with the Cincinnati ace, yielding six hits while hitting five. He didn’t walk with anyone either.
At first it hardly felt like a throwing duel.
Nick Senzel and Nick Castellanos kicked off the match with Fried’s back-to-back singles, rekindling memories of the Braves’ latest playoff outing.
In Match 5 of the 2019 NL Division Series, Atlanta gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 10-run record in their first fight. This time, Fried managed to escape the first and third jam by retiring Joey Votto, Eugenio Suárez and Mike Moustakas.
“I’m trying to get out of there with just one run,” he said. “Fortunately for me, I couldn’t get out without it.”
Fried also benefited from some key defensive plays.
Castellanos was thrown out by Adam Duvall trying to move from first to third to sixth place. Then, in Fried’s final inning, the Reds’ double steal attempt ended with a couple of rundowns and Austin Riley tagged Aristides Aquino just before he touched home.
Rossi: Senzel appeared to jam his left shoulder by diving back first on a rebound shot in the third, but stayed in the game.
Braves: There were injury issues after Atlanta’s final series of the regular season, but everyone was good at making it to the playoffs.
Rossi: RH Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.21 ERA) makes his first post-season start.
Braves: RH rookie Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95) provided a huge boost to Atlanta’s troubled rotation when he was called by the alternate training site in late August.