Freddie Freeman, Braves look to top Reds again

MLB

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, who is rounding into form after a slow start to the season, will look to lead the Braves to another road win over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Freeman went 2-for-5 with an RBI on Friday as the Braves earned a 3-2 victory to level the four-game set at one win apiece.

The reigning National League Most Valuable Player doubled twice Friday and drove in his 900th career run after he homered in the series opener Thursday.

That 900 figure is also going to come up again soon for Freeman, who has scored 897 runs in his 12-year career.

Since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, only five Braves have scored 900 and driven in 900 for the club: Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Eddie Mathews and Dale Murphy.

Only two active players in baseball have scored 900 and driven in 900 for a single team. Cincinnati’s Joey Votto has scored 1,059 and driven in 997, while Ryan Zimmerman has scored 951 runs and plated 1,036 for the Washington Nationals.

Freeman is 4-for-10 in the series and has eight hits in Atlanta’s past three games after being mired in an 0-for-12 skid. Freeman’s .256 batting average marks his high point on the season.

Batting in front of Freeman on Friday was Ronald Acuna Jr., who sat out the previous two days with an ailing lower back. Acuna went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run.

“(The training staff) worked on him, and he hit in the cage and says he’s ready to go,” manager Brian Snitker said pregame.

Atlanta will send right-hander Ian Anderson (5-3, 3.33 ERA) to the mound Saturday for his 15th start of the season. In his most recent outing, in the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets on Monday, Anderson allowed just three hits in 5 1/3 shutout innings to get the win, striking out five and walking one.

Cincinnati counters with right-hander Luis Castillo (2-10, 5.61 ERA), who will be making his 16th start of the season. Castillo has rebounded since opening the season with a 1-8 record and a 7.22 ERA in 11 starts through May, allowing a .321 opponents’ batting average.

The right-hander is 1-2 with a 2.19 ERA in four starts in June, holding opponents to a .155 average.

Castillo has struggled in the first inning this season, posing an ERA of 11.40 in the opening frame and a 4.21 ERA thereafter. Castillo’s 22 runs allowed and 19 earned runs allowed in the first inning are the most in the majors. In 2020, he gave up just six runs (five earned) in the first inning of his 12 starts.

Reds manager David Bell announced before Friday’s game that outfielder Nick Senzel is still rehabbing from his left knee patella surgery performed in May and hopefully will begin his minor league stint in July.

“He’s gotten kind of all the swelling out, and he’s adding in more activities, but it’s going to be sometime after the All-Star break before he starts playing,” Bell said. “We still have some time there.

“The amount of days hasn’t been determined, but it’ll be enough to make sure he’s healthy, (he has his) timing back, baseball, all that. Maybe both can be accomplished sometime in July, but I would think towards the end of July before we would see him back here.”

Cincinnati right-hander Sonny Gray (groin) had his Thursday rehab start with Triple-A Louisville pushed back to Saturday after waking up with a stiff back. If all goes well, Gray could rejoin the major league team in time for the series against the Chicago Cubs next weekend.

Reds corner infielder Mike Moustakas (heel) has been shut down and is not performing baseball activities after his most recent rehab assignment. Moustakas is now slated for a return closer to late July than the All-Star break.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.