Freeman sets tone with first-inning home run

Dodgers' offense perks up as Smith, Bellinger also go deep vs. Rox

June 30th, 2022

DENVER -- After scoring just four runs at Coors Field while losing the first two games of the three-game set, the Dodgers wasted no time filling in the scoreboard with crooked numbers in Wednesday night’s finale. They scored four runs in the first two innings en route to an 8-4 win to end a four-game losing streak to the Rockies and avoid the series sweep.

The slumbering Dodgers lumber was definitely due for a wake-up call, and Freddie Freeman rang the bell with the first pitch he saw, driving it a projected 446 feet over the center-field wall to give the Dodgers an immediate lead.

“You want to get on the board as early as you can to help Julio [Urías],” Freeman said of his first strike. “I don't think we've scored many runs for Julio over the course of the season, so it was nice to get him some runs and start early.”

The homer extended Freeman’s hitting streak to 13 games, the longest active streak in the Majors. It was his fourth home run and 13th RBI in the stretch, and with a single in the fifth, his average improved to .407 (22-for-54) during the streak.

“In the last 10 days, I think that he's just using more of the field,” manager Dave Roberts said of Freeman’s torrid stretch. “He's such a good hitter. He likes to go the other way, which is great. But still, right-center is open, and the home run to left-center today. He's pulled some balls down the right-field line. He's just been really consistent all the way around. He's a dangerous guy, especially when he's used the entire field.”

This series has been an encore performance for Freeman, who is the reigning National League Player of the Week.

“With the anticipation of going back to Atlanta, and him getting through it and then finishing up this series really well, it's pretty remarkable,” Roberts said. “I guess he just has a unique way of compartmentalizing the emotions with performance.”

Seven of L.A.’s starting nine collected hits, with Will Smith and Gavin Lux joining Freeman with multi-hit nights. Smith and Cody Bellinger added to Freeman’s early round-tripper for a trio of Dodgers homers accounting for half of their eight runs.

“We talked about trying to get on the heater early in counts,” Freeman said, trying to pinpoint the key to the Dodgers outburst after a pair of unusually calm Coors nights. “That's what we tried to establish tonight, and we were able to do that and get some runs early.”

Losing two out of three was not the way the Dodgers wanted to end a 6-3 road trip, but it beat the way they started the series, getting shut out with just three hits in Monday’s series opener. With a big four-game series against the Padres starting Thursday, it was good to get their groove back before leaving Colorado.

“The first two days of this series we didn't pitch well,” Roberts said. “So to get a good start from one of our guys was big. We still have our leverage guys ready for the San Diego series, and to get some guys on track offensively going into this next series is certainly a positive.”

Urías pitched 5 1/3 innings, yielding three runs on six hits and a walk while fanning five. It was his fifth straight start of five innings or more, and the first among those in which he gave up more than two runs.

“I’ve been really consistent,” Urías said through an interpreter, remarking on his strong starts in June and attributing his success to watching videos from last season to rekindle what was working for him then. “I made some adjustments with my mechanics that allowed me to be more consistent with my command and to be able to get through the games the way that I have.”

The explosive victory against Germán Márquez, one of Colorado’s top starters and an All-Star last season, helped wash away the residue from what had been the low point of the road trip, leaving the Dodgers feeling good about the bigger picture.

“You want to get greedy and win more, but considering where we were last night, I'll take the 6-3 road trip,” Roberts summed up. “Tonight was a good sign offensively. We’re looking forward to getting home, and we got a big series coming in at Dodger Stadium. They're going to come with some energy, and we've got to match it. We want to play our best baseball this series.”