With Jones resting Freeman bats third
With Chipper Jones resting his sore right knee, the Braves entered Saturday afternoon’s matchup against Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum with Freddie Freeman sitting in the third spot of their lineup.
Since experiencing his annual early-season struggles, Freeman has been on a tear. The 21-year-old first baseman entered Saturday with six hits in his previous 13 at-bats and the confidence that has increased while hitting .349 (15-for-43) over his previous 15 games.
“There’s nothing better than a Major League hitter with confidence and he’s got it,” Jones said.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez put Freeman in the third spot of the lineup and surrounded him with a couple of fellow left-handed hitters — Jason Heyward and Brian McCann. Gonzalez understands this allows Bruce Bochy to potentially set his top left-handed relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez to face this trio of left-handers in a crucial late-inning situation.
But with this being said, Gonzalez said he likes the plate appearances Heyward, Freeman and obviously McCann have produced against left-handed pitchers.
McCann has hit .217 (5-for-23) against left-handers this year and .265 in his career. Heyward has hit . 250 (47-for-188) against southpaws in his young career. The 21-year-old right fielder padded that mark with a pair of singles off Madison Bumgarner in Friday night’s win over the Giants.
Freeman has recorded seven hits, including a double and two homers, in his first 20 at-bats against left-handers this year.
But before worrying about how they could be hurt by Affeldt or Lopez, the Braves will focus their attention on Tim Lincecum, who has gone 6-2 with 2.89 ERA in eight career regular season starts against them. Or maybe you’d like to hear that he is 1-2 with a 4.42 ERA in his last three starts against them.
Jones thinks there is a chance he’ll be back in the lineup Sunday, when he turns 39. The veteran third baseman said his right knee has been bothering him for about 10 days and he hasn’t experienced much relief while taking anti-inflammatory medication during this span.
Chipper has hit .419 (18-for-43) with four homers in his career on his birthday.
Before wrapping this up, Gonzalez once again took time Saturday to further explain why he opted to pitch to Matt Kemp with first base open and one out in Thursday’s 12-inning loss to the Dodgers.
With the currently hot Juan Uribe on-deck and the pitcher’s spot to follow, Gonzalez was hoping to get one out, intentionally walk Uribe and force the Dodgers to send a pitcher to the plate with two outs. They had exhausted all of their position players.
“The pitcher’s spot came after Uribe and they had run out of position players,” Gonzalez said. “The pitcher’s spot was coming up, so I was trying to get one out. If we would have got an out with Kemp, I would have walked Uribe to face one of their pitchers.”