3:56 AM UTC
SAN DIEGO — Over the past two seasons, Freddie Freeman has amazed his Dodgers teammates and coaches with his next-level approach at the plate.
Freeman, once again, showed why he’s one of the best players in the Majors, finishing off a 10-pitch at-bat with a three-run homer to lead the Dodgers to an 8-2 victory over the Padres on Sunday at Petco Park. The 10 pitches were the most Freeman has seen in his career in an at-bat that ended with a home run.
“Obviously, with last night, it just changed the momentum quickly right there,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “[We were] able to catch a lead, put together a great at-bat, finish it with a home run. The momentum clearly swayed in our direction.”
Padres left-hander Rich Hill started the second-inning at-bat with a pair of offspeed pitches that got Freeman in an early 0-2 hole. Two of the next three pitches were balls to even the count, which allowed the Dodgers’ first baseman to be a little more selective.
Freeman then showed his plate coverage, fouling off a four-seamer, a sinker and a sweeper in consecutive pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Hill went to a curveball that flirted with the zone but landed for a ball. It was a pitch most hitters in the league would’ve swung at with two strikes, but Freeman wouldn’t bite.
“I got down 0-2 pretty quickly, so I was just trying to move it forward and hopefully something good would happen,” Freeman said. “But I started seeing more and more pitches, fouled off the heaters away then I took that 2-2 curveball.”
Hill then went back to the sweeper, this time landing one in the inner-half of the zone, allowing Freeman to turn on it and shoot it into the right-field stands for a three-run homer to give the Dodgers a six-run lead.
“We knew from our hitters meeting that he was heavy breaking ball 3-2, so I was just kind of looking up in the zone and hoping to see something pop,” Freeman said. “I saw something pop, and I was able to get it.”
Since the All-Star break, Freeman is 35-for-84 (.417) with six homers. His overall 1.011 OPS is second in the NL behind Braves’ superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. (1.014).
Freeman’s home run set the tone, but the Dodgers also used Mookie Betts’ 30th homer of the season, Amed Rosario’s two-run homer and six strong innings from Trade Deadline acquisition Lance Lynn.
Lynn was making his second start with the Dodgers on Sunday and showed signs of why the club was aggressive in acquiring the veteran right-hander. Lynn allowed four hits and just one run over six strong innings and earned his second win since joining the team.
“A little bit of everything, really,” Lynn said, when asked what was working on Sunday. “Just to be able to attack hitters, move the ball around, up, down, in, out. Change a few speeds here or there. See what you got.”
Since the Deadline, the Dodgers’ moves have panned out just the way they envisioned. They made a series of moves that weren’t necessarily splashy, but their lineup has been much improved against left-handed pitching. The addition of Joe Kelly has made the bullpen better, Saturday’s disaster aside. And Lynn has stabilized a depleted rotation just enough.
In the process the Dodgers have won five of the six games since the Aug. 1 Deadline. They’ll go for a series win on Monday against the Padres.
“I think that with guys like Joe or Kiké [Hernández] who have been here, it’s easier to kind of project,” Roberts said. “But some of the newer guys, you just really don’t know, because it’s a different environment. But for them, it’s a credit to the guys in the clubhouse to make them feel comfortable. Lance already is all in on us. It’s really good to see.”
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