Three Cuts: Freeman’s walk-off single in 10th lifts Braves past Reds
ATLANTA — There was no one else Fredi Gonzalez would have rather had at the plate in the situation.
With two runners on and two outs in the 10th inning — and dark clouds closing in on Turner Field — Freddie Freeman sent Manny Parra’s offering to center, scoring Jason Heyward as the Braves won 1-0 Sunday to complete a 5-1 home stand.
"Being in the middle of the lineup you like those RBI opportunity and definitely to win the game," Freeman said. "And definitely when I looked up and saw that weather coming I wanted to get out of here."
In Saturday’s 4-1 win, Freeman faced Parra and felt he had a strong idea of what pitches he’d see with Heyward on second an B.J. Upton at first.
"I saw heater, heater," Freeeman said. "I saw him pretty good (Saturday), he threw first-pitch slider and I saw heater, heater yesterday, so I was feeling pretty good going into that at-bat."
For Freeman, it completed a roller coaster of a week that included his first three-strikeout game of the season, going hitless in 12 at-bats in all and dryness in his eyes that he has been treating with eye drops before he goes to sleep. But he bounced back, going 5 for 13 against the Reds with a home runs and three RBI.
"It’s been an up and down, but you’re going to have those throughout the season," Freeman said. "Now I go into the off day and it’s a good point to let my eyes heal more and be able to play in the dome (in Miami) the next few days definitely might help and hopefully I can keep that roller coaster on a high note."
Freeman’s walk-off single kept Atlanta hot as it won its fourth straight and 12th in the last 15 games.
Here are three more things we learned from the Reds and Braves’ season finale.
The Braves’ Julio Teheran entered Sunday having yet to allow more than two earned runs this season; Reds starter Johnny Cueto had piled up six straight quality starts.
Something had to give, right?
Both streaks remain intact as Cueto and Teheran dueled for eight innings, each allowing three hits. Cueto struck out 11 — his fourth career game with double-digit Ks — and walked three in throwing a first-pitch strike to 21 of the 30 he faced, while Teheran had five strikeouts and two walks and had a 0-1 count on 17 of 28 batters.
"He just keeps getting and better, his entire game," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Teheran.
Teheran came in with a .300 average in a very small sample size against current Reds, led by Jay Bruce at .667 (2 for 3), while Joey Votto was at .500 (1 for 3). He kept both of them hitless, allowing doubles to Ryan Ludwick and Brayan Pena and a bunt-single by Billy Hamilton. Teheran had retired 10 straight before an eighth-inning walk to Zack Cozart and kept 12 of the last 13 he faced from reaching safely.
"I was trying to do my job and I the first team that scored was the one that was going to win and I was just trying to get serious," Teheran said.
But in what’s becoming commonplace with the Braves of late, there was little run-support for Teheran. While he’s yielded one run in 24 innings in his last three outings, it’s resulted in just one decision, an April 16 win over the Phillies. He’s been backed by 3.5 runs per game, below the league average of 4.0, and has now had two runs or less in three of his six outings, including one in that aforementioned game at Philadelphia, and zero Sunday.
Teheran matched Cueto, whom he called "one of the toughest guys in the game right now,’ inning for inning in the kind of outing that makes him believe he’s arrived among the game’s aces.
"I was just trying to do my best," Teheran said. "Now I feel like I’m one of those guys,"
There’s nothing wrong with being a homebody; nothing wrong with enjoying the comforts, warmths and simple pleasure of where one resides — or in the case of Justin Upton, basking in dominant Aprils at Turner Field.
With the Braves heading to Miami for April’s final days, Upton closed out the month’s home schedule by delivering a sixth-inning double and a single in the first frame for two of the team’s hits against Cueto.
Upton’s popped up to Joey Votto for the first out in the ninth inning, but in all he went 6 for 11 in the home stand and hit .512 (20 for 39) overall in the month in Atlanta with six home runs, three doubles and 12 RBI. He’s also responsible for the three longest home runs of the season at Turner Field (477, 440, 420), with the 440-footer coming in Saturday’s win over the Reds.
Add that run to what he did in last season’s opening month, his first in a Braves uniform, and Upton is a .413 (31 of 75) hitter in April in Atlanta.
The road hasn’t been kind, though, as he’s 9 for 47 (.191) this season with two extra-base hits (a home run and a triple) and four RBI. At least Upton only has to spend three games away from Georgia before the Braves return home for a nine-game run vs. the Giants, Cardinals and Cubs beginning Friday.
Bryan Price didn’t like what he saw. Even after replay confirmed it, the Reds manager still didn’t like what he saw.
Price stood near the third baseline after a replay kept the Braves’ B.J. Upton at first base following Johnny Cueto’s pickoff attempt in the bottom of the first inning Sunday at Turner Field, and in a testament to how much the expanded replay has changed the manager/umpire argument, waited until being told he was ejected before going out to discuss with second base umpire Bill Miller.
It was the first career ejection for Price, who wasn’t alone in being ejected as pitcher Homer Bailey, Saturday’s starter for the Reds, was also tossed for yelling from the dugout.
Price requested the replay after Cueto’s throw to first baseman Joey Votto beat Upton back to the bag, but first base umpire Greg Gibson deemed Votto’s tag wasn’t in time.
After the replay officials in New York ruled the call stood, Price came out of the Reds dugout with his arms outstretched. He stood near the baseline mouthing "It’s right there," as he pointed to the Turner Field jumbotron.
Miller held his arms up, motioning for Price to stay back and shaking his head, but once the Reds manager crossed the chalk line, Miller signaled for the ejection.
Ejections are down in 2014, with Price becoming just the fourth and the third stemming from reviewable plays. The Red Sox’s John Farrell (April 13) and Rangers’ Ron Washington (April 14), were tossed for arguing after plays were overturned after replay.
The Cubs’ Rick Renteria was also ejected on April 8 while disputing balls and strikes.
This summer, former Braves manager Bobby Cox will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Among his accomplishments, which include four-time manager of the year and a 1995 World Series, Cox was also tossed from 158 games.
Replay may help to keep that record for ever being challenged.