For at least one night, the Nationals solved their Freddie Freeman problem.
The Braves first baseman is posting little league-like numbers against the Nationals this season, hitting .486 (18 for 37) against them. In this series, Freeman was 3 for 5 on Thursday, and he was 3 for 6 on Friday with a home run off a Stephen Strasburg changeup in the first. Freeman has had 22 multi-hit games this year, and he’s had at least three hits in nine games this season.
But Saturday night, Freeman was held to one hit with right-hander Doug Fister on the mound. After allowing Freeman a single to right field in the first inning, Fister struck him out on a changeup in the fourth. Freeman flew out to center in the sixth inning, and he grounded out on a Fister changeup in the eighth.
With Freeman contained, the Nationals were able to get their first win against the Braves in the series scoring just three runs.
“He’s certainly been tough on us, but he’s been tough on everybody,” Nationals Manager Matt Williams said before Saturday’s game. “That’s why he hits .300. That’s really hard to do over the course of the season. The guys that can do that are guys that recognize a pitch out of hand. They don’t swing at bad pitches, and they’re able to execute their swing. All in all, he’s just a really good hitter.”
Williams said Freeman can be confounding in how counterintuitive his swing is. One would think that the 6-5, 225-pound Freeman would have a long swing, but Williams said Freeman’s swing is short and compact, which allows him to wait longer before he swings and therefore read pitches better.
“He’s a big guy that has a really short swing,” Williams said. “He can get to a fast ball. He’s got a really good eye at the plate and recognizes pitches.”
Nationals’ lefty Jerry Blevins faced Freeman in the 13th inning Friday, throwing seven pitches before Freeman singled to right field on a 91-mph sinker. His hit started a Braves’ rally that the Nationals wouldn’t overcome in the 6-4 extra-inning loss.
“He’s putting the ball in play,” Blevins said before Saturday’s game. “And it’s not going to where we want it.”