The agony of victory: After big hit, Freeman battered by mates

Freddie and the gamer. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Freddie and the gamer. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The adrenaline, Freddie Freeman said, was beginning to fade, which meant he was “starting to hurt from all the jumping around.” Somebody had stomped on his toe, and somebody else had yanked his elbow, and the 21-year-old was old and wise enough to know the aching would only get worse.

“We’ll see how it is in about two hours,” Freeman said, but he was smiling through the pain. Beat the game’s most feared closer — well, the most feared if you don’t count Mariano Rivera — when you’re down to your last strike and you’ll take the celebratory damage that comes with it.

Two out, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, Braves down a run, Brian Wilson staring through his facial foliage. Does it get any better than that? For Freddie Freeman, it hasn’t yet. The winning single he drove up the middle was, he said, the best moment of his major-league career — “so far.” And it was a fairly momentous turn for his ballclub.

Lose and the Braves’ lead over the Giants in the wild-card standings would have been three games. Instead it’s five. The Braves got a bit lucky in the ninth — Jose Constanza beat out a grounder to shortstop that Orlando Cabrera bobbled; it should have been called an error but wasn’t — but they were unlucky to have been trailing in the first place. That they snatched back a game they’d all but thrown away suggests they’re made of stern stock.

“It’s huge,” Freeman said. “It’s a two-game swing. To win the first game of the [four-game] series is big.”

Well, yes. And to have beaten the bearded Wilson has to do wonders for a team’s self-esteem. The Braves had fooled around and lost two winnable games against the Cubs over the weekend. On Monday they beat a better team that had much to gain. “Like a playoff game,” Freeman called it, and it felt close enough.

About Wilson: “Seeing him run in from the bullpen and hearing people in our ballpark react got us pumped up,” Freeman said. Still, the furry closer was one strike from closure. He jumped ahead of Freeman 1-2 in the count, whereupon the rookie took two pitches, which isn’t always the Rookie Way at such a loaded moment.

“You know what you’re going to get with him,” Freeman said. “It’s either going to be 91 mph [a cut fastball] or 96 [a two-seamer].”

On 3-2, Freeman got the two-seamer. He’d struck out on a similar pitch earlier this season, but Wilson got this one a tad lower, and Freddie Freeman can darn sure turn on a low ball. “It was middle, middle in,” Freeman said, and then it was bounding into the outfield and the Braves were running around and Brian McCann was squeezing the rookie between first and second base and then everybody else was joining the pummel party.

“Right when I hit it, I knew we were scoring both runs,” Freeman said, and Wilson knew it, too. He didn’t bother backing up any bases. He just started trudging toward the dugout, a beaten beard this night.

For the past month two men have been carrying this lineup — Dan Uggla, who’s 31, and Freeman, who’s barely of legal age. Uggla had taken his cuts against Wilson and whiffed. Freeman put bat on ball and won the ol’ game.

Someone asked if Wilson was indeed a daunting figure to face. Freeman smiled. “It’s just his persona,” he said, using a nice word. But the callow Freeman has a bit of a beard himself, and with every week opponents are learning to Fear The Freddie. Because the potential inherent in this young man is scary.

By Mark Bradley

97 comments Add your comment

Freddie freeman

August 15th, 2011
11:10 pm

My beard is better than wilson’s.

Dr. Phil

August 15th, 2011
11:11 pm

An all-time great win and one that Freddy won’t forget.

Hoops Dawg

August 15th, 2011
11:14 pm

Great win. And if I’m first, so be it!

Jamaaliver

August 15th, 2011
11:17 pm

You mean worse than Wilson’s beard.

NorCalBrave

August 15th, 2011
11:25 pm

That “fear the beard” junk Giants fans are so fond of is just that…..junk, worse than ex-Brave Al Hrabosky’s quick turn and glare in for the sign. Happy to have Venters and Kimbrel let their stuff do the talking.

Katherine

August 15th, 2011
11:25 pm

Way to go braves!!!

southern bell

August 15th, 2011
11:25 pm

4th and really happy that Freddie got it done for the Braves tonight.

Rowsdower

August 15th, 2011
11:28 pm

Freddie bailed out Fredi big time. What a game!

chem

August 15th, 2011
11:34 pm

foliage not foilage! but well done

The Other Freddie

August 15th, 2011
11:41 pm

Best game I’ve been to all season. The entire stadium was chanting the tomahawk as we left for the exits.

And to see the scattered fools still wearing the Wilson facial fur was too comical.

Fab Five Freddie

August 15th, 2011
11:47 pm

“Veni, Vidi, Vici”

Columbus

August 15th, 2011
11:47 pm

Great win! Playoff atmosphere for sure and I expect it to be even moreso the next 3 games with the way this one ended. We owe them from beating us in the playoffs last year byt keeping them out of the wildcard this year if they do not win their division. We are a better team this year but we have 2 starters on the DL. That is why tonight was so huge. We threw our ace and it is doubtful that Lowe will pitch a great game against them so tonight was likely our best chance. I know its true that the Giants have not been hot lately, so hopefully Lincecum and Cain will be not as dominating as they can be and we can somehow win 3 of 4 or at least a split with our starters being our weak link right now. Go Braves! Beat them Giants!

Reid Adair

August 15th, 2011
11:49 pm

At this point in their respective careers, I’d say Brian Wilson is more feared that Mariano Rivera.

It was a great game tonight, and a tremendous moment for Freddie Freeman.

Free Freddie man

August 15th, 2011
11:50 pm

Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimo

Beachy Boy

August 15th, 2011
11:57 pm

Bad Vibrations for Brian Wilson.

Rick

August 16th, 2011
12:06 am

May the best beard win!

Great game. I still don’t get why Hudson hit in the 7th.

iTiSi

August 16th, 2011
12:13 am

Rick, me either. FG lucked out on this one, that’s for sure!

Don

August 16th, 2011
1:00 am

Uggs’ defense on the carom off Huddy’s glove and Freddie’s bat saved Fredi G’s bacon on that “decision” to let Huddy bat. That didn’t make any sense. I know Huddy was a great batter in college, but that was a long time ago. Fredi probably liked who he had on defense, so didn’t want to execute a double switch, but he could have brought in Brooks or even Chipper (who is seeing the ball great, even if he can’t run), then switch them out after their at bat for Martinez to start the next inning, since it’s unlikely we would have reached the 9 spot again. Execute two single switches instead of one double switch.

Seems to me the rest of the coaching staff should be talking to Fredi in this case and trying to convince him to make a different decision.

JJBA

August 16th, 2011
1:02 am

Rather see Hinske playing in RF than Heyward at this point.

Mark S

August 16th, 2011
1:31 am

What did that placard in the crowd before the game say? A young girl holding a sign that read; “Dreamin for Freeman!” Wow to be his age with his talent!
Great job Freddie Freeman! Big-time clutch hit versus a big time major league closer!
Exciting playoff atmosphere baseball!!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

braves nut

August 16th, 2011
3:02 am

Please people stop with the you would rather see Hinske in Right rather than Jason he actually swung the bat well against a lefty tonight and his defense is stellar! Jason just has to move up on the play some and he is really young and he is not as good as Freeman but he will be productive this year

Dr. Warren

August 16th, 2011
4:31 am

Three more games to play. Let’s hope we at least split and maintain a 4-game lead.

Dirty Dawg

August 16th, 2011
5:02 am

This business of a ‘mosh-pit-style’ celebration following ‘walk-off’ anythings has gone way too far. Was it last year where the guy slipped while jumping on home plate, surrounded by teammates, and promptly broke a bone in something and was out for the rest of the season? I’ve noticed that Prado goes ‘ape’ in these things rubbing dirt all in the player’s hair – and eyes for all he knows. I’m afraid that Freddi needs to step up and have a little talk with the guys – sure he doesn’t want to curtail enthusiasm and a wile celebration every now and then is good for team spirit, but it’s just stupid for all this piling on – before winning the last game of the last playoff series (I think they call that the ‘World’ Series), that is – is gonna get somebody hurt to the point of being out of the lineup for a while, or worse.

ChasZee

August 16th, 2011
5:50 am

Good enough on Freddy. Thanks. All this instant reporting is nice, but will it ever produce another Jim Murray? You’re in the neighborhood, MB. Always good perspective and some nifty turns of phrases. (And still working!) Appreciate it.

lassiejasmine

August 16th, 2011
6:23 am

Enamored with Freddie Freeman BIG TIME! He is so tough! That stretch at 1st and his power hits, plus just a totally awesome guy! Way to go, Freddie! GO BRAVES!

Joe

August 16th, 2011
6:23 am

Not sure that the Giants are much better than the Cubs. San Fran is the very definition of smoke and mirrors. They have the worst lineup in baseball and were only in the game because two of their AAA players lucked into home runs last nigth and Bourne blew up a routine play.

Bud Wiser

August 16th, 2011
6:33 am

Freddie Freeman – National League Rookie of the Year. No need to send out any ballots.

Its over.

ATLfan15

August 16th, 2011
7:32 am

great comeback win! would love to see them hit better with RISP though.

while watching the game, i saw this sign in the crowd: “the beard is weird.”
Jim Powell and Don Sutton came up with their own saying for the Braves: “fear the peach fuzz”
(a nod to Freeman and Kimbrel for the way those young guys are getting it done for this team)

There’s a two man race for NL Rookie of the Year…and it’s right here in ATL. :-)

bravegal91

August 16th, 2011
7:43 am

Fredi has been doing it great ever since his dad told him he looked scared when he was bat. well, he ain’t scared anymore!! He has been consisten thru the season and no one seems to get his fantastic defense. Did a split the other night. everyone has always said we need a good first baseman..well, we got him and he will so be a great one at defense and at offense. He doesn’t get the attention, media wise, but maybe that is just as well.
And I agree with JJBA, would rather have Hinske in RF. Heyward did nothing last light. tis a shame as he has great talent but it got lost somewhere and keep on keeping on to our two speedsters–Constanza and Bourn. Dang good to see speed!!

G8tr

August 16th, 2011
7:43 am

how would freddie know what a playoff game feels like since has yet to actually play in one? lol..good win though..i was ready to give up and call em a bunch of losers

Newbomb Turk

August 16th, 2011
7:59 am

Best Braves first baseman since Robert Fick….hands down.

vermont 39

August 16th, 2011
8:03 am

Nice work Braves!!!
Sure does look pretty when everything is working.

Pig Farmers Local 42

August 16th, 2011
8:09 am

Heyward and Lowe still in lineups….WTF Freddi?

IE80

August 16th, 2011
8:11 am

I agree, you gotta pinch hit for Huddy in that spot. But…Fredi was looking at the rest of the series and figuring he’s going to need his bullpen a lot the next 3 nights. Guess he was determined to get 8 innings out of Hudson. Still a questionable decision, though. Glad Freeman made it work.

Dr. Sigmund Football

August 16th, 2011
8:29 am

I thought Kimbrel was the most feared closer.

Max Sizemore

August 16th, 2011
8:32 am

Good one, Newbomb.

StungByAYellowJacket

August 16th, 2011
8:35 am

Oh my!!! I’m still pissed at myself, I remember watching the prior batter (Uggla) bat and feeling a tremendous amount of optimism that this was going to be a replay of the several come from behind thillers from last year, after Uggla struck out, my heart felt angry but then I saw a young man by the name of Freddie come to the plate, my heart was still optimistic but I thought to myself with two outs, there is no cushion for us at this point, with 3 balls and 2 strikes, the suspense was literally eating me alive, I had to turn the station for about 3 seconds and when I turned back, to my surprise I saw Freeman being bombarded by his teammates while listening to a joyful roar by the fans. I was both happy and pissed, pissed because my overall nerves caused me to miss perhaps the greatest moment so far this year for the braves (with the exception of the Uggla hitting streak).

Male Durphy

August 16th, 2011
8:37 am

Agreed Dirty Dawg…it is great to show excitement and run onto the field after a great win like this but the celebrations are overly dramtic throughout baseball now…every 9th inning win looks like Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS. I frankly feel a little embarrassed watching some of these celebrations, especially watching some team that is 30 games under 500 win one in extra innings celebrating what could be confused as a world championship. My guess is that it is the everybody gets a trophy generation mentality that brought it on, but I hope it fades away.

Jimbo

August 16th, 2011
8:37 am

chem

August 15th, 2011
11:34 pm
foliage not foilage! but well done

@Chem – I’m thinking “foilage” is appropriate in your comment as well.

oldmike

August 16th, 2011
8:44 am

Can anyone explain why Braves pitchers today can no longer throw more than 100 pitches in a game? Is there some magic elixir that makes their stuff disintegrate after reaching the century mark? Do we know for a fact that the batter will hit every pitch that is located poorly because Beachy, or Minor, or Jurrjens have thrown 100 pitches? Give me a break. If we let our starters go a bit deeper in games our bullpen might not collapse from overwork. Of course, scoring more than 2 or 3 runs a game might make up for a lot of other inefficiencies. Send JayHey to Gwinnett for a couple of weeks to work on his mechanics away from the big cluib and then recall him in enough time to make the post season rosters. Make sense? Ride Constanza as long as possible. This ain’t gonna last forever!!!

STL Brave Fan

August 16th, 2011
8:44 am

I think you could add Kimbrel to that most feared list as well. It will be interesting to see which rookie wins RTY!

StungByAYellowJacket

August 16th, 2011
8:45 am

Newbomb Turk

August 16th, 2011
7:59 am
“Best Braves first baseman since Robert Fick….hands down.”

Freeman is definitely worth mentioning in the group of great Braves (and MLB as whole) first baseman,. but I would say he’s not the best since Robert Fick….Andres Galararrga, Adam LaRoche, Fred McGriff, and Randall Simon were all after Fick and before Freeman, I must agree that Freeman has the best combination of both Defense and Offense that we have had in a very long time.

DC

August 16th, 2011
8:46 am

stung…time for you to change your tampon..sheesh..you never change the channel!

STL Brave Fan

August 16th, 2011
8:47 am

A in-depth breakdown of which Braves rookie would be most deserving of RTY honors would make for a really interesting blog….

Do you see what I did there Mr. Bradley?

Pearls man, throwing you pearls here.

PreyDawg

August 16th, 2011
8:49 am

DirtyDawg- You called it. Time for the manager to get involved. This is not just old fogey wet blanket stuff. We are going to loose a multi million dollar starter in this post game melee’s. Plus it is a bit over the top for the situation. Still a lot of ball left to be played. Celebrate, sure. I dont mind that at all. But take it down a notch guys. Prado is funny though.

Joe Tess Fish House

August 16th, 2011
8:58 am

If U look at that hit the Gaints player gave up and let the wining run score. Braves didnt win this game the Giants loose it.

Joey

August 16th, 2011
9:00 am

Is it too early to ask if maybe we have our next Chipper?

chem

August 16th, 2011
9:04 am

@Jimbo: magic editor trolls corrected it when you weren’t looking

Bernard

August 16th, 2011
9:08 am

Its simply called “TALENT”!!!!!!!……SSSSSSWEEEEET!!!!!!!:-)