“Unfortunately I didn’t get any hits, but I caught a couple balls at first, and I was really loose in the dugout,” Freeman said. “I had a lot of fun doing it, and we won, so that’s the ultimate goal.”
After allowing 10 runs in his past 10 innings over two starts, Hanson locked in to a dominant form he had for the better part of his previous eight starts.
Hanson gave up two home runs in his first six pitches Friday night against the Marlins and a career-high four home runs overall. On Wednesday, he went 96 pitches without giving up a run and allowed only two base runners, on a hit and a walk.
Between his adjustments and the one-two punch that Omar Infante and Jason Heyward had working, Hanson won his first start since July 3 to move to 9-10 with a 3.60 ERA on the season.
The only hit off him was a double to left by David Wright in the fourth. Rick Ankiel saved him another with a great catch going back on a shot to center by Ruben Tejada. Hanson struck out three.
“I kept the ball down today,” Hanson said. “I just tried to get my hand out [of my glove] sooner and get on top of the ball. After last game it was something I thought about a lot, I think it helped me out a lot today.”
Heyward went 4-for-4 with two doubles for his second four-hit night in the past three games. He’s hitting .450 (27-for-60) with 13 RBIs in his past 14 games.
“I feel like I’m not trying to do too much at all,” said Heyward, who had all four hits to the opposite field. “I’ve got to keep giving credit to the guy hitting in front of me. He’s been on base a lot.”
That would be Infante, who went 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to .346 (121-for-350) and continue his dark-horse campaign for a batting title.
Infante and Heyward jumped all over Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, with six of the nine hits he allowed in his five innings. They led off the game with back-to-back hits to get into scoring position for Martin Prado, who drove them in with a double. In the second inning Infante and Heyward went back-to-back again, this time with run-scoring hits, to put the Braves up 4-0.
The Braves have outscored the Mets 22-6 in the first three games of their four-game series.
Freeman was trying to get in on the act. Once he realized his name was in Wednesday’s lineup -- and believed it -- he spent the afternoon cramming with video and scouting reports, learning signs and meeting with Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton. Apparently he wasn’t the only one studying.
The Mets put the shift on against Freeman and watched it pay off in his first two bats, when he grounded hard but right into the teeth of where the Mets had him played, behind second base and then in the hole at shortstop where the third baseman Wright was waiting.
It came as a surprise for a player who had been in Triple-A all season with less advance scouting.
“I couldn’t believe that, but it worked for them,” Freeman said. “They did their scouting, and it worked. I didn’t have a shift on me one time this year.”