Home News Freddie Freeman hits go-ahead homer in return to Atlanta

Freddie Freeman hits go-ahead homer in return to Atlanta

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ATLANTA — A year ago, Freddie Freeman prepared himself for his first return to Atlanta as a visiting player. As he played against the only organization he had known up to that point for the first time, Freeman spent the entire weekend crying, while also reminiscing about his time with the Braves and how it all came to an end.

Following that trip to Atlanta, Freeman finally admitted that it was the closure he needed in order to fully move on from his past. And he went on to lead the National League in hits in 2022.

This time around, Freeman is still thinking of all the fond memories he enjoyed with his family. But the trip is different. There were no tears. There were no emotional reunions with everyone in the building. He did, however, enjoy a lengthy standing ovation prior to his first plate appearance.

Those cheers he enjoyed for 12 years turned into boos, though, as Freeman’s three-run homer in the fifth played a key role in the Dodgers’ 8-6 comeback win over the Braves on Monday night at Truist Park.

“I think even last year he came here [to Atlanta] and had some nice nights here,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But man, the moment doesn’t get too big for him, and he just continues to perform.”

Freeman is on his way to one of his best months since joining the Dodgers last season, which is a tall task. His 3-for-5 performance in the series opener extended his hitting streak to 12 games. During that span, Freeman is 22-for-48 (.458) with four homers and 17 RBIs.

“It was a lot more normal than last year, I can tell you that,” Freeman said of his return to Atlanta. “But my dad wasn’t here last year, and he’s here tonight, so I really wanted to do well for him. Got the first one out of the way first at-bat, and then was able to really settle down after that.”

While Freeman’s three-run homer gave the Dodgers the lead, he was hardly the only contributor as the offense continued its recent tear. J.D. Martinez had one of his biggest games as a Dodger, going 4-for-5 with a pair of solo home runs.

“It feels good,” Martinez said. “You work so hard every day to try to go out there and have a good performance. It’s gratifying. But at the end of the day, it’s just one game.”

David Peralta also contributed with an RBI triple. Miguel Rojas continued his strong offensive stretch, chipping in with a single and a double. Overall, eight of the Dodgers’ nine starters reached base at least once.

These offensive outbursts have been much-needed for the Dodgers given the starting pitching issues the team has had over its last eight games. Those struggles and injuries have forced Los Angeles to turn to its top two pitching prospects in Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller, who will make his debut on Tuesday.

On Monday, Stone allowed five runs over four-plus innings in his second Major League start. But despite the rough line, he drew plenty of praise from his teammates and Roberts because of his ability to bounce back.

Stone allowed four of the five runs in the first inning, and it looked like it was going to be another early exit for a Dodgers starter. But the right-hander answered with three scoreless frames before “running out of gas” in the fifth, according to Roberts.

Following Stone, the Dodgers turned to five relievers, who held the Braves’ potent offense to just one run.

“[Pitching coach Mark Prior] came over after the first inning and just kind of settled me down a little bit,” Stone said. “It helped. It helped a lot. I was able to refocus and make pitches that I wasn’t making in the first inning.”

With the Braves and Rays on the schedule, the Dodgers are facing one of the toughest weeks of the season. They insist that this isn’t a measuring stick, because it’s early in the season. But they’ll find out some more things about themselves against the best competition in the Majors. They passed the first test with flying colors.

“It’s too early to say it was like a playoff game, but when we get together, you can see the way [Braves manager Brian Snitker] managed and how I managed,” Roberts said. “We exhausted a lot tonight, but it feels good to win this one.”

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