The Atlanta Braves will seek to bounce back from a heartbreaking defeat when they go for a series win against the host San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.
Left-hander Max Fried (6-2, 2.86 ERA), who has never started a game against San Francisco, is slated to oppose righty Jeff Samardzija (2-2, 3.69), who will be seeing the Braves for the first time in almost two years.
The Braves were on the doorstep of two straight wins to open the three-game set before the Giants rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday night. San Francisco completed the comeback with a two-out, two-run, walk-off single by Joe Panik.
Fried has made one career relief appearance against the Giants, and there's a good chance that two-inning stint could impact the lineup San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy will send out against the 25-year-old.
Fried allowed a home run in that May 2018 outing to Evan Longoria, who has struggled so badly this season, Bochy now finds himself weighing his options at third base on a daily basis.
Bochy went with Pablo Sandoval in the series opener, then had a little fun with the media when he was asked for an explanation.
"Usually I get the other question," he responded, "as in, 'How come he's not playing?'"
Bochy went on to point out that Sandoval had hit four homers -- two as a pinch hitter -- in a recent six-game stretch, having gotten back in his mode of swinging at bad pitches and somehow hitting them with authority.
"There's no one scouting report that can get these guys," Bochy said of free swingers like Sandoval. "They can hit balls over their head and down below (the knees) and expand the zone."
After Sandoval went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and Longoria failed as a pinch hitter in Atlanta's 4-1 win Monday, Bochy flip-flopped the two Tuesday. It worked.
Longoria drove in San Francisco's first run with a double, and Sandoval came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth to extend the game and set the stage for Panik's heroics.
Bochy likely will stick with the winning formula in the series finale, and not just because of Tuesday's results. Longoria has put up better numbers against left-handers than Sandoval, and he also owns success in his brief history against Fried.
The Braves' budding star is coming off six innings of shutout ball in a 12-8 win over Milwaukee on Friday. Fried won each of his past two starts and three of his past four.
The homer he served up to Longoria last season was the only run he allowed in two innings in Atlanta's 9-4 home loss. His career ERA against the Giants stands at 4.50 with no decisions.
Samardzija, meanwhile, has faced the Braves 13 times in his career, seven times as a starter. He's gone 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA.
He'll be glad not to see injured outfielder Ender Inciarte, who carries a .300 career batting average against him. Inciarte remains out due to a lumbar strain.
"It's still biting (Inciarte) a little bit," Braves manager Brian Snitker said before the Tuesday game. "It's one of those things you can't rush. When he gets everything calmed down, he'll start doing baseball stuff again."
The Braves can afford to be patient. Inciarte's replacement, rookie Austin Riley, has hit three home runs in his first seven big-league games, including a two-run shot in the Braves' Monday win. He went 1-for-4 on Tuesday.
--Field Level Media
Giants hope to continue momentum vs. Braves