LOS ANGELES -- Freddie Freeman stood on second base. He took off his helmet and patted his chest Sunday as the Dodger Stadium crowd serenaded him with loud “Freddie! Freddie!” chants that have become a norm in Los Angeles since last season.
During a pitching change in the eighth inning, the crowd chanted for him again. Freeman delivered with a curtain call. Since signing with the Dodgers at the start of last season, Freeman has quickly become one of the most-liked players on the roster.
Freeman has treated Dodgers fans with plenty of memorable moments in a short period of time. His latest act was collecting his 2,000th career hit on an RBI double in the eighth inning against right-hander Rafael Montero, allowing the Dodgers to mount a comeback before ultimately losing, 6-5, to the Astros in 11 innings.
Despite the loss, the Dodgers, once again, held a champagne toast in the locker room following the game in order to celebrate yet another milestone for Freeman, whose 2,000 hits are the sixth most among active players.
“Yeah, that’s special,” Freeman said. “Seeing how happy my dad, my stepmom, my wife, my kids were for me, it just makes it special. And the fans have embraced my family and I since the day I got here, so they made another special memory for the Freeman family. It’s a special day, one I’ll never forget.”
Freeman joked that his personal milestones have only come in losses this season, but despite the final result Sunday, it was a successful week for the Dodgers, who went 4-1 against the Angels and Astros, two teams over .500.
Will Smith and Mookie Betts each homered Sunday and continued to make their case to start this year’s Midsummer Classic in Seattle.
Tony Gonsolin, however, struggled once again, allowing four runs over five innings of work.
“It’s always tough to lose the last one, but to look back and say you won a series against a good ballclub, I feel we’ve got some momentum,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We’ve got Clayton [Kershaw] on Tuesday, and I feel good about that.”
Something else the Dodgers feel good about is the potential of Freeman finding his stride once again at the plate. Freeman was in the middle of an 0-for-11 mini-slump before a one-out double down the left-field line in the sixth inning, getting him to 1,999 career hits. After the game, Freeman admitted that he has been “grinding at the plate” recently, but that hit helped him lock back in and utilize the opposite side of the field.
In his next at-bat, Freeman took a 2-1 pitch from Montero and lined it over the head of Kyle Tucker in right field for his 2,000th career hit. Freeman also joined the 300-homer club earlier this season, becoming the 98th player in Major League history to reach both numbers in a career. Freeman wasn’t aware of that until being told postgame, keeping him speechless for a few seconds.
“That kind of hits a little bit. This game’s been going on for a long time,” Freeman said. “There’s been, what? 16,000, 17,000 people to play this game, and to be under 100, it’s hard for me to put into words right now. … It’s just special to achieve some of these things, and for fans and my teammates, coaching staff, to appreciate it as we're going along, that makes it even more special.”
As he usually does, Freeman credited the help of his dad, Fred, for all the work they’ve both put in over the years. Freeman said he never allowed the pressure of getting to 2,000 hits creep into his head -- outside of his son Charlie reminding him -- but he did have an incentive of reaching the milestone at home because he wanted to have his whole family in attendance. That would’ve been more difficult with the Dodgers starting a six-game road trip Tuesday in Colorado.
But now that Freeman has locked in 2,000 hits in his career, the next step is trying to get to 3,000, a number that almost guarantees a spot in the baseball Hall of Fame.
“You guys know 3,000 hits and hits mean a lot to me,” Freeman said. “If that were to happen, that would be great. If I stay healthy and play 162 like I want to do, I feel like my numbers will be there. … That would be pretty cool. Hopefully I can play long enough to do that.”