Freeman’s walk-off hit wins series for Braves

Freddie Freeman is mobbed by his teammates after driving in the game-winning run with an infield base hit in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets on Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Atlanta.

Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore

Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore

Freddie Freeman is mobbed by his teammates after driving in the game-winning run with an infield base hit in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets on Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Atlanta.

The Braves took two of three from the Mets in unlikely fashion. First, a 20-run output Wednesday. Then, in perhaps in even more incomprehensible fashion, they made Mets ace Jacob deGrom look mortal for a 15-minute stretch before requiring a walk-off hit to win it.

In the end, the Braves defeated the Mets 4-3 at Truist Park. It was the first time they’ve won a series against New York this season.

Here are five takeaways from Thursday:

1. After striking out four times, Braves first baseman – and starting All-Star first baseman – Freddie Freeman redeemed himself.

Tied at 3, the Braves received a gift to start the bottom of the ninth. Outfielder Guillermo Heredia made soft contact with a ball that reliever Seth Lugo had to awkwardly field. Rather than hold it, Lugo fired to first base on the ground, delivering an erratic throw that put Heredia on second base.

Lugo retired the next two before intentionally walking outfielder Ronald Acuna. Outfielder Ender Inciarte drew a walk to finish an eight-pitch at-bat, setting up Freeman, the reigning National League MVP who’d had a dreadful night.

His redemption was unconventional but counted the same: Freeman hit a ball that ricocheted off Lugo’s foot toward third base. Luis Guillermo fielded the ball, and with his momentum carrying him forward, didn’t think to try to beat Acuna to third base for the force out. He instead threw to first, where Freeman beat the throw and ended the game.

“When you have the game I was having, you want another opportunity and that’s how I viewed it,” Freeman said. “But Ender’s at-bat was incredible. That 3-2 layoff of a heater in was pretty amazing. What a great ending. It’s amazing what happens when you put the ball in play. … That was a huge win for us.”

2. It felt like the impossible happened in the first inning. The Braves struck deGrom for three runs on three hits. The Cy Young frontrunner entered the night with a 0.69 ERA, having allowed just six runs across 78 innings (13 starts) this season.

Right fielder Ehire Adrianza led off with a triple. Second baseman Ozzie Albies came back from an 0-2 count, resisted the urge to chase a couple sliders and singled Adrianza home. Third baseman Austin Riley capped the inning with a towering homer to the Chop House.

“Guys were on the attack,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It was vintage deGrom right there and our guys had a great approach, just really good at-bats. They were ready for him. That’s a tough ride, man.”

3. How rare is such early success against deGrom? It was the first time this season he’d allowed a run in the first inning. Opponents were 1-for-39 with 20 strikeouts against him in the first frame entering Thursday.

4. The Braves were thrilled to maximize that opportunity against deGrom, because after allowing another two hits in the second, he turned it up another level. He retired the final 18 Braves he faced. He covered seven innings, striking out 14 without issuing a walk.

5. Closer Will Smith blew the save in the ninth, surrendering a game-tying homer to Dominic Smith, who also homered off starter Ian Anderson earlier in the night. It was Smith’s first blown save since June 9, which was also the last time he’d allowed a run. It snapped a streak of eight consecutive scoreless outings.

Stat to know

0.95 (The Braves struck deGrom for three runs in seven innings, raising his ERA from 0.69 to 0.95.)


“I always look forward to (hanging out with) Jacob deGrom (at the All-Star game), but I don’t know if I want to anymore. After tonight, I might shun him next week.” – Freeman, who struck out three times against deGrom

Quotable 2

“I’m thinking, ‘Damn, we finally got one to bounce our way.’” – Snitker

Covering innings

Anderson allowed two runs on three hits across seven innings. After pitching six frames in his last outing, Anderson hopes he’ll continue going deeper in games, which was an issue at times in June.

Up next

The Braves open a three-game series Friday against the Marlins. Braves lefty Drew Smyly (5-3, 4.79) will start against Marlins righty Pablo Lopez (4-4, 2.87).