“If it ain’t broke, I’ll be in there,” Freeman said.
With 30 doubles and now 38 home runs, Freeman is inching closer to a 40 home-run, 30-double year, which only three Braves have done in a season. (Eddie Matthews had 47 homers and 31 doubles in 1953; Hank Aaron had 44 homers and 30 doubles in 1969; and Chipper Jones had 45 homers and 41 doubles in 1999.)
“MVP,” Snitker said of Freeman. “He’s just amazing. What he does and the timing and when we need it. He got whacked on the foot yesterday and he limped around the bases on the first homer. But he wasn’t going to be denied, he was going to play because of that right there, how much he means to this team.”
The Braves are a season-high 30 games over .500, the first time Atlanta has passed that mark since 2013. They remain 5-1/2 games in front of the Nationals.
Freeman, who now leads the league with a career-high 114 RBIs, accounted for each of Atlanta’s runs, tallying five RBIs, which also ties a career high. He gave the Braves a 2-0 lead after knocking a two-run homer to right field in the first inning, scoring Ronald Acuna (who had walked to first, then stolen second).
“I think it’s just maturation and being the guy,” Snitker said of Freeman’s monster season. “This is Freddie’s team. He’s our leader. He’s the one everybody goes to, including me, and he’s got big shoulders and he handles all of it. His perspective on things is second to none. He’s just a mature individual. I think more than anything it’s just being in the league and playing here. I saw the same type of thing with Chipper.”
After the White Sox got two runs back in the second, courtesy of an RBI single by Chicago starter Lucas Giolito scoring Yolmer Sanchez and Adam Engel, Freeman’s second home run of the game (No. 38 on the season) scored the recently called-up Johan Camargo and made it 4-2 Braves in the sixth inning.
In six innings pitched, starter Julio Teheran gave up two runs on three hits, walking four and striking out five. Teheran settled in, retiring 13 of the final 16 batters he faced.
A key defensive play helped reliever Luke Jackson, who allowed an earned run off two hits and a walk, get out of a bind in the seventh, as catcher Brian McCann, in his first game back after going on the injured list with a left knee sprain, connected with Josh Donaldson to catch Tim Anderson attempting to steal third and end the inning.
Freeman’s RBI single in the eighth gave Atlanta a 5-3 lead, enough to seal the win.
“The numbers are going to say what they say, but for me, it’s just having a 5-1/2 game lead with 24 more games to go,” Freeman said of his personal stats and milestones. “That’s all I care about is winning this division and making it to the playoffs. So if I have to keep putting numbers up, I’ll keep doing it, but I think I’ve got a pretty good team around me to take some pressure off.”
The Braves’ homestand continues at 1:20 p.m. Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays.