Dodgers make Freeman's day a winning one

T. Turner, Urías power LA to victory over first baseman's former team in Atlanta

June 25th, 2022

ATLANTA -- In his first game back at Truist Park, Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman couldn’t hold back his emotions. He cried when he saw 14 Braves Freeman jerseys as he walked into the building.

He cried again during a 13-minute press conference, excusing himself from the room for a few moments before answering questions. There were more tears when he received his 2021 World Series ring from Braves manager Brian Snitker.

Pregame was all centered around Freeman. Gates were opened to fans an hour earlier than normal. The start time was pushed back five minutes so Freeman could address the crowd with another emotional speech.

But once Freeman wiped away his tears, it was time to play baseball. Trea Turner, Julio Urías and the Dodgers made sure to take care of business and make Freeman’s return to Atlanta a successful one, as they beat the Braves, 4-1, on Friday night.

“We love Freddie here. We want to have his back and be out there for him in situations like that,” Turner said. “It was cool seeing him get that ring and how emotional he was because he loved playing here. I think it’s a good thing, and it’s good for us to be out there supporting him.”

After sweeping a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati, the Dodgers’ offense picked up where they left off in Friday's first inning against Braves right-hander Ian Anderson. Turner led off the game with a single and Freeman walked behind him. Will Smith then slapped a single to left field to put Los Angeles ahead, 1-0.

In the fifth, the Dodgers tacked on two more runs against Anderson. Turner launched his 10th homer of the season, a solo shot to give Los Angeles a 3-0 lead. Turner is 15-for-32 with two homers since he was moved to the leadoff spot on June 17, replacing Mookie Betts, who is on the injured list with a right rib fracture.

“There’s no secret that he enjoys the leadoff spot,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “With the absence of Mookie, Trea’s really stepped up. He’s got on base, he’s slugged and he’s creating havoc, creating situational opportunities. He’s playing, right now, that type of MVP-caliber baseball.”

The early offense was plenty for Urías, who allowed one run and struck out nine in six innings. Over his past four outings, Urías has allowed only four earned runs and punched out 29 over 23 1/3 innings.

“I thought he was throwing the baseball well all night long,” Roberts said. “He’s been trending up. I think there was a lot made of the velocity early, but the last four or five, he’s held his velocity. … He’s obviously in great shape, and he threw the heck out of it tonight.”

Urías’ usage is always a hot topic of conversation. The Dodgers have traditionally been more conservative with his workload. But with several injuries to the rotation, the team is going to lean on the Mexican left-hander.

By throwing a 96 mph four-seam fastball on his season-high 94th pitch of Friday's game, Urías showed that he is more than capable of accepting the responsibility.

“I feel like I’m feeling a lot better with my mechanics,” Urías said in Spanish. “I feel like I have the gas to get into the late innings and still maintain my velocity, and I proved that tonight.”

Friday was an emotional day for Freeman. The entire weekend will be difficult for Freeman, who signed autographs up until an hour before first pitch. But the Dodgers have been looking forward to this weekend. They stood on the top railing of the visiting dugout to support Freeman in his moment.

Then, they went out and beat the Braves in their first game back in Atlanta since their loss in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series last October.

“I’ve been thinking about this weekend for a long time, just because I wanted to get my ring,” Freeman said. “But it’s been a lot. It’s been a long three months. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. So I’m just glad the first night’s over. I've got two more.”