Pederson homers in debut with Braves as Fried shuts down Rays 9-0
Published 11:55 pm Saturday, July 17, 2021
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Joc Pederson hit a two-run homer in his first start with Atlanta, Max Fried had a two-run double among three hits while throwing seven dominant innings, and the Braves shut out the Tampa Bay Rays 9-0 on Saturday night.
Fried (7-5) did not allow a baserunner to reach second. The left-hander gave up four hits with one walk and had seven strikeouts. Fried’s career-high three hits included the two-run double in a six-run fourth inning.
“The dude rakes!” Pederson said of Fried. “… He had some pretty swings, too. It wasn’t luck.”
Fried is hitting .333. When it was suggested he is making hitting look easy, Fried said, “Hitting is one of the hardest things to do in sports. I just had a really good night.”
Pederson, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, hit leadoff and started in right field, filling roles held by Ronald Acuña Jr. before his season-ending knee injury on July 10.
Pederson had two hits, including an infield single to a vacant third base against the Rays’ defensive shift in the eighth.
“He’s electric,” Fried said of Pederson. “He obviously has a lot of thunder in his bat and puts together good at-bats.”
Pederson’s homer landed in the Braves’ bullpen behind the right-center wall. It was the highlight of a six-run fourth inning off Rays left-hander Josh Fleming (7-5).
“You see what the guy can do,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He can hit good pitching.”
The big hits by Pederson and Fried in the fourth were made possible when umpires declined to overturn a ground-rule double by Guillermo Heredia that landed near the right-field line. The Rays asked for the review to determine if the ball landed fair or foul.
Fried had a game-winning, pinch-hit single in the 10th inning of an 8-7 win over Miami on July 4.
“Fried had a pretty good day all around, at the plate and on the mound,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “That was impressive.”
Freddie Freeman added to the lead with his 21st homer off Fleming in the fifth. Fleming gave up seven runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Fleming blamed “inconsistency with my sinker” for his struggles in the fourth. “Left too many over the plate,” he said.
Edgar Santana and Tyler Matzek each pitched one inning behind Fried to finish the combined four-hit shutout.
One day after trading for Pederson, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos stayed active by acquiring catcher Stephen Vogt from Arizona following Friday night’s game. Vogt was in uniform but did not appear in the game.
Braves C Jonathan Lucroy was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Vogt, who will share time with Kevan Smith. Snitker said the goal is to “piece this thing together” until starter Travis d’Arnaud (torn ligaments, left thumb) returns from the injured list, possibly by mid-August. Snitker said d’Arnaud’s rehabilitation is “going well.” Lucroy appeared in only two games with Atlanta following his recall from Triple-A Gwinnett on July 7.
Tampa Bay rookie Wander Franco made his first start at second base after playing shortstop and third base in his first 16 games.
“We certainly are appreciative of his versatility and will continue to try to use that,” Cash said, adding he sees Franco as “just a real special player.”
Snitker juggled his lineup with Dansby Swanson and Freeman hitting second and third, respectively. Freeman moved down one spot in the lineup. Swanson had a run-scoring double off J.P. Feyereisen in the sixth.
SAVING THE BULLPEN
Cash used catcher Francisco Mejia to pitch the ninth and protect his bullpen. Mejia allowed one hit in a scoreless inning.
Speaking through a translator, Mejia said Cash “came up to me and asked if I’ve ever pitched and I said no, but I’d be willing to go and I can throw strikes. That was the first time I’ve pitched in my life.”
Atlanta’s Drew Smyly will face Tampa Bay’s Rich Hill in a matchup of veteran left-handers in today’s final game of the weekend series. Hill is 5-0 with a 1.74 ERA in nine career appearances, including seven starts, against the Braves.
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