MILWAUKEE – Freddie Freeman had a game-winning home run in the ninth inning Friday against the Brewers to continue his run of robust hitting at Miller Park, but it did nothing to change his opinion of the place and his comfort level hitting there.
“No. I think it’s a bad-lit Little League field,” Freeman said before Saturday night’s middle game of the three-game series. “I can’t see anything here.”
You wouldn’t know from recent results. Freeman has just a .220 career average with five home runs and an .827 OPS in 17 games at Miller Park. But those stats reflect his earlier struggles at the retractable-roof stadium and are not at all indicative of his performance there in recent years.
The Braves first baseman hit .111 (4-for-36) with no extra-base hits, no RBIs, two walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 10 games at Miller Park through March 31, 2014. But in his past seven games at the stadium he was 9-for-23 (.391) with two doubles, five homers, seven RBIs, seven walks two strikeouts and a 1.647 OPS. That period included a pair of three-hit, two-homer games April 1, 2014 and Aug. 10, 2016.
On Friday, Freeman was 0-for-4 and had grounded into a double play before stepping to the plate against Neftali Feliz with the score tied and Adonis Garcia on second base after a leadoff double. Freeman crushed a two-run, line-drive homer over the center-field fence to give the Braves their first lead and one they wouldn’t relinquish, after coming back from deficits of 4-0 and 8-4.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve been part of in a long time,” Freeman said after the Braves extended their winning streak to three games with a performance that several of them called a great team win and indicative of the type of group they have and their unwavering belief in each other.
But no, it didn’t change Freeman’s opinion of Miller Park.
“I mean, I’ve had maybe one or two good series here out of six,” he said. “But I can hardly see the ball. I think it was a ball in the first (inning), double play, and I almost missed it because I couldn’t see the ball until it got on me. It’s just dark. … And they shot off those fireworks (before the Brewers’ first inning) and the fog just got trapped in there, it was hard to see. I even asked all their guys, I said I don’t know how you guys play in here. I would not be good here.
“I’m just glad it’s three games and out. I don’t see the ball well, at all. I don’t understand that (lighting problem). Arizona’s (lighting in retractable dome) is great. I feel like Little League fields are lit better than this. Obviously they have no problem (Freeman laughed) because their guys are hitting. I guess you get used to it. Our lights at SunTrust (Park) are awesome. Turner Field was a little dark. …
“It just seems like I can never barrel balls up here (at Miller Park) consistently. It’s like seeing dark balls coming in.”