Freeman extends streaks, ignites comeback with 33rd homer

Freddie Freeman started the Braves’ comeback from a 6-0 deficit Tuesday with his two-out homer in the fourth inning, and he scored the tying run in the eighth after leading off the inning with a single.

That’s the way things have gone lately for the resurgent Braves offense and the hottest hitter in the National League, Freeman, whose 33 home runs are 10 more than his career high before this season.

He entered Wednesday with a 29-game hitting streak that was tied for longest in the majors this season and a 45-game on-base streak that was one shy of the majors’ longest this season.

“He just keeps doing it,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said of Freeman, whose hitting streak was tied for third-longest in franchise history and the longest since Dan Uggla’s Atlanta-record 33-gamer in 2011.

The on-base streak was the Braves’ longest since Gary Sheffield’s Atlanta-record 52-game streak in 2002, and over 45 games before Wednesday Freeman produced these stunning statistics: 389 average with 17 doubles, 15 homers, 45 RBIs, 45 runs, 40 walks, 39 strikeouts, .507 OBP and .772 slugging percentage. The Braves were 24-21 in those games.

Freeman’s .980 OPS ranked third in the National League and fifth in the majors before Wednesday, behind Boston’s David Ortiz (1.029), the Angels’ Mike Trout (1.000), Washington’s Daniel Murphy (.987) and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto (.983).

“Doing nothing different,” the typically modest Freeman said after Tuesday’s win, the 20th in 33 games for the Braves and eighth in the past nine games. “Things are going through and I’m hitting pitches I was missing early in the season. There’s nothing really to it, just trying to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”

Since Freeman doesn’t like to say much about his hitting prowess, we’ll turn to Braves rookie outfielder Mallex Smith, who has made mental notes watching Freeman’s performance. Asked how good Freeman has been, Smith smiled.

“Freddie? He’s amazing,” Smith said. “That is a professional hitter, everybody. He’s the man. You just kind of stay out of his way and watch. In a lot of ways, I’m still a fan of guys in the clubhouse, because I watched them (in the past). You know, like I’m just getting up here, so it’s still kind of, like, fun to see them play.

“Freddie Freeman been locking down first base since he was, what, 21? 20? It’s just nice to see a professional just do his thing. It’s the same thing every day, he carries himself the same way, doesn’t get too high, don’t get too low and just takes care of his business. He’s a true professional. He’s fun to watch and be around.”