Freeman's record-setting 2B comes in typical Freddie fashion

Slugger (3-for-4) leads hot-hitting Dodgers lineup with franchise-record 53rd double of '23

September 9th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- Before the Dodgers’ opener in the nation’s capital, manager Dave Roberts said star Mookie Betts was going to be out for at least a few games with a left foot injury. For most teams, losing one of the best players in the world would provide a massive hurdle.

Los Angeles, however, has the luxury of having another former MVP in , who is also in the mix for this year’s National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Freeman led the way for the Dodgers in the 8-5 win over the Nationals on Friday at Nationals Park. En route to his 19th game of at least three hits this season, Freeman set a new Dodgers single-season franchise record with 53 doubles, passing Johnny Frederick, who held the mark since 1929.

With the win, the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch a 10th NL West title in 11 seasons is down to nine with 22 games remaining.

“This franchise has been around for a very long time,” Freeman said. “A lot of winning seasons. A lot of great players have come through here. So just to be able to be mentioned with some of these guys I’m climbing the leaderboard on, it’s pretty cool. It’s been a wonderful two years so far, so hopefully, I can just keep re-breaking for the next couple weeks.”

In typical Freeman fashion, the record-setting double came on a routine knock into right-center field. But Freeman was thinking double out of the box, knowing Travis Blankenhorn didn’t have the strongest arm in right field.

“I really like that it was a leg double because there are some doubles you kind of cruise into first base, but there’s 10 to 12 doubles of those 53 that he’s legged out and he’s thinking two out of the box,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “That sort of exemplifies how he plays the game.”

Emmet Sheehan got the start for Los Angeles, but he struggled in his first game against the Nationals. Former Dodgers catcher Keibert Ruiz jumped on Sheehan in the first inning, smacking a three-run homer.

In the fifth, the Nats got to Sheehan again with CJ Abrams lining a two-run homer. Sheehan, who allowed five runs over 4 1/3 innings, is one of the young pitchers who will continue getting opportunities the rest of the season as the Dodgers work through their rotation options.

“I thought [Emmet] was just OK,” Roberts said. “I thought there were some good throws in there, but [he] just didn’t look as crisp as he has been. But that’s going to happen. So with the fresh ‘pen, it just made sense to use those levers, and we got some big hits when we needed them.”

Those big hits came from Freeman but also the rest of the lineup. Eight of the nine starters reached base safely at least one time. Before a rain delay that lasted one hour and 34 minutes, Los Angeles’ offense took turns seemingly against Washington’s entire pitching staff.

Chris Taylor, who was hitting leadoff for the first time this season in Betts’ absence, reached base safely three times, including a two-run double to give the Dodgers a 6-5 lead in the sixth inning.

Taylor has had an inconsistent season, but he's put together an encouraging road trip thus far, going 5-for-12 with two homers and eight RBIs in three games against the Marlins and the Nationals.

J.D. Martinez, who hadn’t played since Aug. 19 due to a groin injury, made his presence felt right away by smacking a two-run homer in the first inning against left-hander MacKenzie Gore. Max Muncy and Kiké Hernández added solo homers.

After dropping the first two games of their six-game road trip, the Dodgers have found a way to bounce back in a big way over the past two contests. And now it’s time to start the countdown until they pop champagne once again. 

“Single digits [for a magic number] with a few weeks to go is usually a good thing,” Freeman smiled.