Freddie Freeman had never faced Daisuke Matsuzaka and said he didn’t bother looking at video to prepare for the right-hander. It didn’t matter. All Freeman had to see was see Matsuzaka’s Mets uniform.
Freeman homered, doubled and tied a career high with five RBIs, powering the Atlanta Braves past New York, 13-5, on Monday.
Freeman has thrived against Mets pitching this season, hitting .349 (23 of 66) with five homers and 16 RBIs. For his career, he has 11 homers and 42 RBIs against the Mets, his best totals against any opponent.
Freeman put the Braves ahead with a two-run double off Matsuzaka in the first inning. Freeman made it 6-1 with a three-run homer a dozen rows deep into the right-field seats in the second.
”When you go out there and face guys you haven’t seen, my approach is to go up there and be aggressive,” Freeman said. ”It was kind of easier with guys on base. They have to come after you and they don’t want to walk you and load up the bases. He was aggressive and I took advantage of his mistakes.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Freeman ”gave us a couple great at-bats on a tough day to play well. The first two innings took about an hour”
Each starting pitcher struggled in the slow-paced game which lasted 3 hours, 41 minutes.
Matsuzaka (0-3) allowed six runs on seven hits in only three innings. He has a 10.95 ERA in three starts since signing with the Mets.
”You guys saw the results. I’m very disappointed in myself today,” Matsuzaka said through a translator. ”The difference between my good pitches and my bad pitches was too big and that’s something that’s needs to change.”
Paul Maholm (10-10) snapped his four-game losing streak despite struggling with his control. He yielded three runs on six hits and three walks.
”Paul probably didn’t have his best command, but he battled to stay in the game,” Gonzalez said.
Maholm needed 100 pitches to make it through five innings.
”I would like to take care of the bullpen for more than five innings,” Maholm said.
Mets manager Terry Collins said he expects to stick with Matsuzaka for at least one more start. Collins said the right-hander must pitch deeper into games.
”He’s got to get going for us because we’ve got a lot more games to play this month and he’s going to be a part of those games right now,” Collins said. ”But he’s got to get it going.
”We need him for innings and that’s why we got him.”
Jordan Schafer got four hits and stole three bases for Atlanta before leaving with a lower back strain. Andrelton Simmons drove in three runs.
The NL East-leading Braves, who matched their season high for runs, have won seven of eight.
Josh Satin hit two doubles for New York.
The Mets, who lost at Washington on Sunday night, arrived at their team hotel in Atlanta about 4 a.m. on Monday, followed by their luggage about 30 minutes later. That left players only a few hours to sleep before the bus trip to Turner Field for the 1:10 p.m. start.
Matsuzaka, 32, was released by Cleveland on Aug. 20 and signed with the Mets two days later. He is 0-7 in his last eight starts since Sept. 2, 2012, with Boston.
Simmons’ double in the fifth off Gonzalez Germen drove in Chris Johnson and B.J. Upton. Justin Upton doubled off Pedro Feliciano in the sixth and scored on Brian McCann’s single. B.J. Upton’s double drove in McCann for a 10-3 lead.
Matsuzaka had an RBI single in the second. Zach Lutz had a pinch-hit double in the Mets’ two-run fourth.
NOTES: The Braves said Schafer is day to day. Gonzalez said Schafer may have had ”just a little back spasm” on a swing before his fourth hit. … Atlanta also scored 13 runs in a 13-3 win at Philadelphia on July 6. … Matsuzaka recorded his first career RBI with a single in the second. … The Braves recalled RHP Kameron Loe from Triple-A Gwinnett and announced he will start against the Mets Wednesday, giving RHP Julio Teheran a rest. … The series continues Tuesday night when Braves RHP Kris Medlen faces Mets RHP Carlos Torres.