|Braves' Fried will face bolstered Rockies lineup this time|
Atlanta Braves rising star Max Fried wasn't intimidated with his first start in Colorado's thin air. The left-hander tamed the Rockies' lineup at Coors Field on April 9, holding them to one run -- unearned -- in six innings in a 7-1 Atlanta win.
The caveat was that Colorado rolled out a compromised lineup. First baseman Daniel Murphy and second baseman Ryan McMahon were on the injured list, and the Rockies used rookies Yonathan Daza and Josh Fuentes.
The Rockies now have the lineup they envisioned when the season started, and Daza and Fuentes are back with Triple-A Albuquerque.
On Wednesday, Murphy returned from a fractured left finger that cost him 20 games, and he played just his third game of the season. McMahon has been back for a week from a sprained left elbow, and the offense is starting to roll.
"Murphy, he changes our lineup," Nolan Arenado said after Wednesday's 9-5 win over Washington. "We missed him when he wasn't there."
The veteran was signed in the offseason, the only significant free-agent addition for Colorado. His approach and veteran leadership was apparent right away Wednesday. He singled in his first at-bat and showed patience in drawing a walk in a four-run third inning.
"Murphy, with a guy on third, less than two outs and he took a walk," manager Bud Black said. "He could have expanded the zone and tried to selfishly get a ribby but he didn't. Those are the things that we're talking about with Murphy that rub off."
The hope for Colorado is that it rubs off on the pitching staff, too. Antonio Senzatela (1-1, 3.55 ERA) will pitch the series opener in Atlanta. He is coming off of a loss to Philadelphia on Saturday but has gone at least six innings in each of his two starts this season.
He has faced the Braves twice in his three-year career, with his only start coming in 2018 in Atlanta. He allowed two earned runs over five innings but came away with a no-decision. He pitched two shutout innings against the Braves in relief in Colorado in 2017.
He'll find a tough matchup in Fried, who emerged as a solid starter when Mike Foltynewicz was hurt. Fried is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four starts this season. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs on April 4 and has allowed just four earned runs in 26 innings this season.
His teammates are rightfully impressed with the 25-year-old lefty.
"I love the guy. That left arm, those kinds of special talents don't come around," first baseman Freddie Freeman said after he handled the Rockies. "He's been off to a great start. Pitching like that here in Coors Field, it's a big job and I thought he did fantastic."
Fried has faced Colorado one other time, in relief, and allowed three earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.
The Braves are coming off a 4-2 loss at Cincinnati in a game that was delayed by rain midway through the seventh inning. Atlanta is 5-8 since taking two games at Coors Field earlier in the month.
The Rockies, meanwhile, have turned around a season that was headed in a bad direction. They were 3-12 at one point but have gone 8-2 since April 13. Seven of those wins were before Murphy returned.
--Field Level Media