Freeman fittingly pockets last out for Braves in WS clincher
HOUSTON (AP) — Freddie Freeman thrust both arms in the air, let out a scream, and tucked the baseball into his back pocket. A moment later, he was in the middle of the celebration, swarmed by his Atlanta Braves teammates.
Fittingly, it was their longtime star first baseman who caught the final out on a throw from shortstop Dansby Swanson as the Braves won their first World Series title since 1995. Freeman also homered and had an RBI double in their 7-0 win over the Houston Astros in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
If this was Freeman’s final game with Atlanta, he will go out on the highest of notes.
“I’m still numb,” Freeman said long after the final out. “I’m kind of trying to tell you guys things of how I feel because I don’t really feel anything yet. It’s going to hit hard soon. I don’t know when. Maybe it’s when we get to see everybody in Atlanta.”
The 32-year-old Freeman, last year’s NL MVP and a five-time All-Star, is about to become a free agent. He was a second-round draft pick by the Braves in 2007, made his big league debut at age 20 in 2010 and has been their everyday first baseman the past 11 seasons.
“He’s everything the Braves epitomize,” manager Brian Snitker said. “When you talk about a Braves-type player, it’s Freddie Freeman, how he comes to play every day, what he does in our community, the person he is, the emphasis he has on all of his teammates, me in particular.”
Freeman, who has made it clear he wants to stay with the Braves, said he planned to give the souvenir ball from the final out to Sniker, who has been in the Braves organization since 1977 as a player, coach and manager.
Atlanta posted the most lopsided clinching game in a World Series since Kansas City beat St. Louis 11-0 in Game 7 in 1985.
There had been only six other shutouts to end the World Series since then. The last was also at Minute Maid Park, when the Chicago White Sox won 1-0 in Game 4 in 2005. That was also the third year in a row the World Series ended with a shutout.
Atlanta clinched its 1995 World Series title with a 1-0 win over Cleveland in Game 6. That came four years after the Braves lost 1-0 in 10 innings to Minnesota in Game 7 in 1991.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito and St. Louis ace Jack Flaherty were on hand to watch Max Fried, their teammate at Harvard-Westlake High School in California, throw six scoreless innings and win Game 6 for the Braves.
Giolito and Flaherty watched along with Harvard-Westlake’s Matt LaCour, the baseball coach there from 2002-15 and now one of the school’s athletic directors.
All three were opening day starting pitchers this season.
Flaherty was 6-1 with a 1.77 ERA and a save as a sophomore for the Wolverines in 2012 and Fried was 8-2 with a 2.02 ERA as a senior. Giolito got hurt early his senior season and finished 2-1 with a 0.84 ERA.
HEADED TO THE HALL
The spikes worn by Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried while throwing six scoreless innings in the clinching victory are going to Cooperstown.
Fried’s footwear is among several artifacts from the World Series gathered for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Also from the Braves was the bat used by Freddie Freeman when the longtime star first baseman homered and had an RBI double in Game 6. There is also a ball thrown in Game 3 and a cap worn by Braves starter Ian Anderson when he threw five no-hit innings that night.
The Hall is also getting the batting helmet worn by Series MVP Jorge Soler, shortstop Dansby Swanson’s cap from Game 6, and manager Brian Snitker’s jersey from Games 1 and 2.
A cap that Astros manager Dusty Baker wore during the regular season on the way to becoming the first manager to lead five teams to the playoffs is also going, along with a batting helmet worn this postseason by Yordan Alvarez, the AL Championship Series MVP for the Astros.
RINGS PUT AWAY
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said he hasn’t worn his 2017 World Series championship ring since getting it, and hasn’t even looked at it since then.
“I’ve been focused on the next one,” said Bregman, who will have to wait at least another year for that.
The championship ring Dusty Baker won as a player has been put away a whole lot longer than that.
Baker wasn’t the Astros manager when they won their title four years ago, but he was a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers when they were champions in 1981.
While Baker said the ring no longer fits, he said he never wore it when it did.
“I’m not the kind of guy that flashes your jewelry and stuff, you know what I mean? Some people like to wear it. It was a lot more sedate then than the rings they’re giving out now,” Baker said. “If you wear it now, you have to talk to people that maybe you might not want to talk to.”
Charlie Morton was able to rejoin his Braves teammates over the weekend for World Series games at home, but manager Brian Snitker said the Game 1 starter wasn’t able to go with them back to Houston for the clincher.
Morton was still recovering from surgery on the broken right fibula he sustained in Game 1 a week earlier.
“He’s not allowed to fly. I hate it for Charlie that he couldn’t come, but he physically couldn’t, wasn’t able to come with us,” Snitker said. “He’s back in Atlanta.”
Morton took a one-hop screamer off his leg starting the second inning in Game 1, a ball hit so hard it ricocheted to first baseman Freddie Freeman for an out. Morton then pitched another full inning before exiting the game after striking out Jose Altuve.
Snitker said it was good having Morton in the clubhouse in Atlanta.
“We were glad that he could be there and be around the guys,” Snitker said. “I hate it for him that he couldn’t join us here now.”
LAST STAND — LITERALLY
Houston Astros reliever Kendall Graveman very likely could have been the last pitcher to stand in the batter’s box during a World Series game.
And stand he did, taking six pitches and a called third strike in the ninth inning of Houston’s 9-5 win in Game 5.
“They told me don’t swing. And by they, it was like 10 or 12 people,” Graveman said Tuesday before Game 6, when the series was back in the American League park with the designated hitter back in play. “The competitor inside of me absolutely wanted to go up there and swing.”
There’s a good chance Major League Baseball will bring the DH to the National League next year — likely forever.
Aside from two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani and the occasional pitcher being pitcher used as a pinch-hitter — like Houston’s Zack Greinke earlier in Game 5 — that last game at Truist Park in Atlanta very likely could have been the final time a pitcher appears in a big league batting order.
Graveman entered Game 5 as a reliever in the eighth, and the No. 9 spot in the batting order came up in the top of the ninth before he went out and finished the game on the mound.
Game 6 marked only the second time in 12 seasons that a World Series game was played after Nov. 1.
Since the 2009 World Series ended with the New York Yankees clinching on Nov. 4 in Game 6, the only other World Series game that had been played that late was was Game 7 of the 2016 World Series when the Chicago Cubs beat Cleveland on Nov. 2.
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