Two home run night gets Freeman rolling

Two home run night gets Freeman rolling

MILWAUKEE -- After going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts during Friday night's loss in St. Louis, Freddie Freeman told Braves manager Brian Snitker that instead of a brief mental break, he simply needed a chance to fight through his struggles like he has throughout this roller-coaster season, which has been both frustrating and impressive.

Freeman responded with a three-hit game on Saturday and he recorded another on Wednesday night, when his second multi-homer game of the season was not enough to prevent the Brewers from claiming a 4-3 win over the Braves, who lost for just the second time in their past eight games.

"Sometimes, you might need a mental break," Freeman said. "But when you feel good up there, you know it's going to come with the more at-bats you get. Obviously, it's coming now."

Freeman began Wednesday's power assault by opening the fourth inning with a monstrous shot that Statcast™ projected to travel 436 feet -- the fifth longest distance recorded by a Braves player this season and Freeman's third longest. The 26-year-old first baseman then opened the eighth inning by going the other way with a solo shot down the left-field line.

"The one thing Freddie doesn't want to do is take a day off and regroup," Snitker said. "He's like, 'How can I get hot if I'm not playing?' I totally agree with him. He handles [adversity] and you're seeing the results of staying with him."

Freeman's first home run during this loss to the Brewers enabled him to reach the 20-homer club for the fourth time within six full Major League seasons. He missed this mark in 2014 and again last year, when a right wrist injury either sidelined or bothered him throughout most of the season's final four months.

Freeman opened this season with two hits in his first 25 at-bats and then got rolling before enduring a mediocre May, which concluded with him dealing with a painful left rib injury that hampered him during June's first two weeks. He exited June in scorching fashion and has since continued to endure both the highs and lows. Along the way, it appears he's created a new term for roller-coaster season.

"I might turn grey by the time I'm 27 after this year," Freeman said. "It's been a tough one. It's been really roller-coasty. I've been up high and down low real fast. We have 45-plus games left to go. I'm not going to look at the numbers right now. But I know the extra-base hits are there and I'm getting some hits. I just need to keep going."

Freeman has put himself on pace to hit 29 home runs, which would eclipse his previous career high of 23. His current .519 slugging percentage would also top the career-best .501 mark he produced in 2013. His .887 OPS puts him within reach of the career-best .897 mark he also produced three years ago.

Thus, while the journey has been frustrating, this season might end up being one of the most fulfilling for the Braves first baseman.

"There's nothing wrong with Freddie," Snitker said. "He's a normal person. He's human. With some of those situations, he probably feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. But he handles it and if you handle your adversity, there's usually something good on the other side. He always does."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.