ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman was not given a chance to swing the bat during the decisive ninth inning of the Braves' 8-5 Opening Day win against the Phillies on Thursday at SunTrust Park.But the Braves first baseman certainly played a key role during the impressive comeback. He accounted for his
ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman was not given a chance to swing the bat during the decisive ninth inning of the Braves' 8-5 Opening Day win against the Phillies on Thursday at SunTrust Park.
But the Braves first baseman certainly played a key role during the impressive comeback. He accounted for his team's first runs with a two-run home run in the sixth inning, then drew a couple of walks during the final two innings.
With two outs and first base open in the ninth, Phillies closer Hector Neris intentionally walked Freeman to get to Nick Markakis, who drilled his first career walk-off homer to complete what was the Braves' largest Opening Day comeback win in the modern era.
Charlie Culberson opened the bottom of the ninth with an infield single and advanced to second base on Ender Inciarte's sacrifice bunt. After Ozzie Albies was retired, Freeman was intentionally walked.
"That was big for us to bunt, even though it took the bat out of my hands," Freeman said. "You have to take that chance of somebody getting a hit in that situation. It's nice to play the baseball that's going to help us win games. We're not going to hit the ball over the fence as consistently as we did tonight."
Freeman cut into the Phillies' 5-0 lead in the sixth inning, when he took advantage of Hoby Milner's elevated two-seam fastball and drilled it into the right-field seats. The two-run shot traveled a projected 390 feet and had a 107.2 mph exit velocity, per Statcast™.
Though he missed seven weeks with a fractured left wrist last year, Freeman still produced a team-high 28 home runs. He now has 12 homers at SunTrust Park, matching him with Matt Adams for the most hit by a Braves player at the stadium, which opened last year.
"That's a team and a bullpen we struggled against last year," Freeman said. "To come back and beat them like this is huge."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.