MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Philadelphia0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 260
Atlanta5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 x 7110
  W: S. Newcomb (4-8)   L: B. Lively (3-7)
4:35 PM PT5:35 PM MT6:35 PM CT7:35 PM ET19:35 ET23:35 GMT7:35 4:35 PM MST6:35 PM EST7:05 PM VEN3:35 UAE (+1)6:35 PM CT, September 22, 2017
SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia  Attendance: 33,702

Freeman, Braves open last home series vs. Phillies

ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman stopped taking batting practice several weeks ago to save some of the remaining strength in his left wrist that was broken by a pitch in mid-May, but don't think about giving the Atlanta Braves first baseman any other kind of rest.

"I'm going to go out there every day," said Freeman of his goal to not miss any of his team's remaining 11 games.

As the Braves conclude their final homestand of the first season at SunTrust Park with a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies beginning Friday night, Atlanta fans can only dream about what could have been if Freeman hadn't missed nearly eight weeks.

"I mostly don't think about it until an opposing first base coach says something after I get a hit," the left-handed-hitting slugger said. "They remind me of my numbers."

Freeman had a .341/.461/.741 slash line and 14 homers through 38 games when he landed on the disabled list. He still ranks in National League Top 10 with a .314 average, .409 on-base percentage and .606 slugging mark, but his wrist is far from 100 percent.

Freeman has 28 homers, but he said in late August that the ball was travelling off his bat as if he were "swinging a wet newspaper."

That's when he decided less was better than more when it came to wear and tear on his still weak wrist.

"I stopped having batting practice," Freeman said. "I'm working on saving my wrist, and I feel better."

Freeman, who went deep 34 times in 2016, has averaged a homer every 14.2 at-bats and is on the verge of becoming the first Braves player to hit at least 30 in back-to-back seasons since Andruw Jones slugged a franchise-record 51 in 2005 and then 41 in 2006.

Freeman will be taking aim at Phillies rookie right-hander Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94 ERA) in the series opener. The Braves will also start a rookie, left-hander Sean Newcomb (3-8, 4.32 ERA).

Lively made his second major league start at Atlanta on June 8, when Freeman was on the disabled list. Lively took a loss despite a quality start, giving up three runs in seven innings.

Lively is making a bid for a full-time rotation spot in 2018, and Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has been impressed so far, although the 25-year-old's stuff isn't dominant.

"He's a true competitor," Mackanin said. "He goes out there to beat you. He attacks hitters and does the best he can with what he's got. It's working."

Newcomb, a former first-round draft pick acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in the Andrelton Simmons trade, seems assured of a spot in the Braves' rotation next season despite some ups and downs since his major league debut in June.

Newcomb has a 3.86 ERA in his past nine starts. He has used his changeup more frequently of late to complement an impressive fastball and curve.

The key for Newcomb is better control and resulting lower pitch counts. The 24-year-old has struck out 96 in 89 2/3 innings, but he has walked 51.

Newcomb has faced the Phillies twice, going 0-1 with a 2.54 ERA.

The Phillies (61-92) are 12-4 against the Braves (68-83) going into the final series, taking the first eight games between the teams at Philadelphia before Atlanta swept a doubleheader there on Aug. 30.

Updated September 22, 2017

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