ATLANTA — The scoreless innings stored piling up, together with the strikeouts. The shadows started to creep throughout the infield, and when the lights got here on in a principally empty stadium for a postseason recreation that started a bit of previous midday, it appeared like this would possibly go on ceaselessly.
Lastly, Freddie Freeman had seen sufficient.
The MVP candidate who warded off a daunting bout with the coronavirus at the start of this most uncommon season fittingly delivered the profitable hit within the 13th inning, ending the longest scoreless duel in postseason historical past because the Atlanta Braves defeated the Cincinnati Reds 1-Zero within the opener of their Nationwide League Wild Card Collection on Wednesday.
“That was a really worrying four half hours,” Freeman mentioned with a chuckle.
The East champion Braves received a postseason opener for the primary time since Sport 1 of the 2001 NL Division Collection. They’re going to attempt to wrap up the best-of-three sequence Thursday and snap a record-tying streak of 10 straight playoff spherical losses.
“We’re one away from profitable it,” mentioned Atlanta starter Max Fried, who went seven scoreless innings and was simply 7 years previous the final time the Braves received a playoff sequence. “I am feeling actually good going into tomorrow.”
What started as a pitching showdown between between Cy Younger contenders Fried and Cincinnati ace Trevor Bauer devolved right into a strikeout contest performed earlier than a handful of household and mates at Truist Park.
The groups mixed for a postseason report 37 Ks — 21 by the Braves.
After a few hits within the 13th in opposition to Archie Bradley, Freeman drove one into heart area off Amir Garrett in opposition to a five-man infield with one out to finish a recreation that dragged on for greater than four half hours.
A four-time All-Star, Freeman produced one other large 12 months in a pandemic-shortened season after a battle with COVID-19 in July so extreme that he mentioned he prayed: “Please do not take me.”
Within the 13th, he got here up in a state of affairs he relishes.
“That is the man we wish up there,” supervisor Brian Snitker mentioned.
A.J. Minter escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam within the prime of the 13th for the win — the third straight inning the Reds pushed a runner to 3rd however could not get him one other 90 ft.
“These guys take a lot pleasure in coming by means of in these conditions,” Reds supervisor David Bell mentioned. “Every time we had the chance, we believed it was going to occur.”
Whereas there isn’t a denying the historic nature of the primary postseason recreation to be scoreless after 11 innings, it hardly certified as a masterpiece main off an unprecedented day of eight playoff video games.
With the designated runner at second base not in play for postseason video games, two groups that rely closely on the lengthy ball took turns simply flailing away on the plate, passing on a number of alternatives to bunt runners alongside.
Largely, they stirred up nothing however a stiff breeze.
“We’re a big-swinging staff,” Snitker mentioned. “Generally, it would not occur.”
Bauer actually lived as much as his billing as one among baseball’s greatest pitcher. The outspoken right-hander grew to become the primary pitcher in large league historical past to report 12 strikeouts with no walks, no runs and two or fewer hits in a postseason begin.
Bauer was lifted after retiring the primary two hitters within the eighth, doing the Braves chop on his option to the dugout.
“I introduced my ‘A’ recreation and all the pieces,” Bauer mentioned. “I used to be exhausted.”
The Braves’ solely actual menace in opposition to Bauer got here within the sixth, when Ronald Acuna Jr. led off with a double to the wall in heart and moved to 3rd on Freeman’s groundout. NL residence run and RBI king Marcell Ozuna popped out behind residence plate, and Travis d’Arnaud struck out swinging.
Fried went almost pitch for pitch with the Cincinnati ace, surrendering six hits whereas putting out 5. He did not stroll anybody, both.