Marcell Ozuna extended the Braves’ recent grand slam barrage, and William Contreras hit his first career home run. But as the Braves claimed a 5-3 win over the Nationals on Wednesday night, a healthy Max Fried produced the most encouraging development, by looking much more like he did last year.
Fried returned from the injured list to limit the Nationals to one run over five innings. His best start of the season was supported by Ozuna, who opened the game’s scoring by hitting an opposite-field grand slam off Erick Fedde in the third.
Huascar Ynoa hit a grand slam in Tuesday’s series opening win over the Nationals, and Cristian Pache tallied his first career slam on Saturday against the Blue Jays.
Ozuna hasn’t gotten on a roll yet, but he has tallied five of his six extra-base hits within the past nine games. His ability to duplicate some of the success he had while leading the Majors with 18 homers last year will take some pressure off Contreras, who is 4-for-9 with the one homer since Travis d’Arnaud’s thumb injury made him Atlanta’s everyday catcher.
While Contreras was preparing to spend some time in the Minor Leagues this year, Fried entered the season intent to build on the success he had while posting a 2.25 ERA over 11 starts in 2020. But after being given his first Opening Day start, he found himself with a 11.45 ERA through three starts.
Fried allowed the Marlins career highs in both hits (9) and runs (8) over just four innings on April 13. Adding salt to the wound, he strained his right hamstring after a short bench forced him to bat in the bottom of the fourth. But the injury may have proven beneficial, in that it allowed him to spend the past three weeks making necessary changes to his mechanics and delivery, changes that were evident on Wednesday.
COURTESY ATLANTA BRAVES