Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez joked with Fox Sports South’s Chip Caray in his pregame press conference on Zoom on Monday when the play-by-play announcer for Atlanta tried to get information on how Martinez’s club would try to handle Freddie Freeman batting in the No. 2 spot in the Braves’ lineup.
Martinez just held up four fingers, the sign for an intentional walk, and laughed, though it’s really a good idea most of the time, especially when there are runners in scoring position or a base open for Freeman.
Davey Martinez before tonight’s game on how the #Nationals would approach notorious #Nats’ killer Freddie Freeman in this series. It worked the first time they did it: @FightinHydrant: pic.twitter.com/lsn0enuX2O— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) August 18, 2020
Freeman started the series in Truist Park with a .266/.376/.481 line, six doubles, three home runs, 14 walks, and 17 Ks in 23 games and 93 plate appearances this season, and he began the matchup with a .319/.392/.507 line, 48 doubles, and 18 homers in 153 games and 633 PAs against the Braves’ NL East rivals in his career.
So, yeah, putting Freeman on whenever you can and taking the bat out of his hands makes some sense.
“Freddie is one of the best hitters in the game, and he’s always a challenge,” Martinez said.
“We’ve got to make pitches to him,” the manager added. “He is hitting second, so that does get him up there maybe one more time, so we just got to be smart how to pitch him.”
Freeman lined out to center the first time up against Aníbal Sánchez (against whom he was 7 for 23, .304/.360/.348 in their respective careers before last night), but singled to left the second time up, as the Braves scored a run in the third inning to make it a 4-3 game in the Nationals’ favor.
When Freeman stepped in with a runner on third and two out in the fourth, Martinez held up four fingers for his pitcher and catcher and put the Braves’ first baseman on before a fly out to right by Travis d’Arnaud ended the inning.
It was the 64th walk issued to Freeman by the Nationals over the years, but just the 12th IBB.
Let’s get that number up in the future, maybe?
Will Harris pitched to Freeman with the bases empty and two out in the eighth and gave up a double on an 0-1 cutter that bounced off the top half of the wall in left field but stayed in the park. Make the 49 career doubles for Freeman against the Nationals.
The Braves’ first baseman’s presence in the on-deck circle played a role in his club’s walk-off win as well, according to Nationals’ closer Daniel Hudson, who gave up a game-winning HR by Dansby Swanson on a 1-0 fastball that went out to center in the Braves’ home.
Hudson hit the first batter he faced, Nick Markakis, then gave up a two-run HR by Adam Duvall that made it a one-run game, 6-5 in the Nationals’ favor. Johan Camargo singled, then two outs later, Swanson stepped in, with Freeman on deck.
Dansby called game.#ForTheA pic.twitter.com/EDbRNSCkCD— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 18, 2020
“Swanson there, I’ve got two outs and I know who’s on deck, Freddie’s on deck,” Hudson explained, “and I don’t want him coming to the plate with a guy in scoring position and a chance to tie.
“So Dansby probably had that idea and it’s pretty good when you have Freddie hitting behind you. He probably sees a lot of heaters. So, he jumped all over it and made me pay.”
Seinfeld voice - “Free-man!!!”