Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was relieved that the first pitch he saw in his eighth inning at bat Tuesday night was a good one to hit.
“Luckily, it was the first pitch and I didn’t have to hear my name being chanted so much to make me do something,” said Freeman. “It’s hard to bring your emotions down, but we were able to do it.”
Facing Milwaukee’s Josh Hader, Freeman walloped a slider over the fence in left field for a solo home run, putting the Braves ahead 5-4, and lifting Atlanta to a series win over the Brewers. The Braves now head to the National League Championship Series for the second year in a row.
It was only after the home run that the crowd of 40,195 fans chanted “Freddie, Freddie”, summoning the Braves’ slugger out of the dugout for a curtain call.
“I’ve had a lot of cool moments in my career, but so far, I think that’s going to top them right there,” said Freeman. “Hopefully that’s not the last cool one, you know, I’ve got a couple more in these playoffs.”
In what was a low-scoring series, the Braves and Brewers both put a pair of runs on the scoreboard in the fourth and fifth innings of Tuesday’s game. Freeman’s homer snapped a 4-4 tie before closer Will Smith nailed down the victory in the ninth.
“I had that inning regardless, tied at home. I was going in” said Smith. “Then you see Freddie clip one and now you’ve really got a job to get done, so you kinda lock it in.”
The Braves’ bullpen held the Brewers scoreless for the final four innings of the game.
“You couldn’t script this any better,” said Braves’ manager Brian Snitker. “Have Freddie Freeman hit a homer off probably the best closer in the game? That’s Freddie, it was great. It was like the perfect ending.”
The Braves learned shortly before Tuesday’s Game 4 that outfielder Jorge Soler would miss the game because of a positive COVID-19 test. It’s not clear when he’ll return.
The Braves will face the winner of the San Francisco Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers series which is tied at two after the Dodgers’ win Tuesday night.