Freddie Freeman was the hero in the Braves' postseason-clinching win on Tuesday.With one swing of the bat, Freddie Freeman clinched a playoff spot for the Atlanta Braves and also etched his name in baseball’s annals of clutch performances.
His first career walk-off homer, a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning, gave the Braves a dramatic 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night and a trip to the postseason for the second time in the past three seasons.
Walk-Off HR To Clinch Postseason Berth
Freeman is the seventh player in major league history to hit a walk-off home run to clinch a team’s postseason berth.
He is just the second, however, to hit the game-winning homer with his team trailing in the game. The other was Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard 'Round the World” for the 1951 New York Giants.
The homer was sweet redemption for Freeman, who hit into a double play in the 13th inning of a 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on the final day of the 2011 season, eliminating the Braves from the playoffs last year.
How Freeman won the game
The game-winning pitch was a 95-mph fastball that Freeman sent 425 feet over the center-field wall. It was just his second career homer on a pitch at least 95-mph and first this season.
Since the start of August and before Tuesday, Freeman was 2-for-14 in at-bats ending in a pitch at least that fast. Of the 36 swings he had taken against pitches 95 mph or faster in that span, 20 had been fouled off.
The pitch was on the outer third of the plate, giving him his fourth home run this season on a pitch away. He was hitting .186 in at-bats ending in an outside pitch entering Tuesday, fifth-worst in the majors.
The game wasn’t decided until the final pitch but the Braves had to feel good about their chances of winning when it started with Kris Medlen on the mound.
The Braves have now won the past 22 games started by Medlen, matching the longest streak of consecutive team wins in a player’s starts in major-league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Most Consecutive Team Wins
In Pitcher's Starts, All-Time
The New York Yankees won 22 in a row in games started by Whitey Ford from 1950-53 and the New York Giants also won 22 in a row in games started by Carl Hubbell from 1936-37.
Medlen’s seven innings of three-run ball actually increased his ERA to 1.04 as a starter this season. He held the Marlins' righties to two hits in 13 at-bats, but both hits were homers off fastballs.
It is the first time in his career he allowed multiple long balls to right-handed batters off his heater in a single outing.
Before Tuesday, righties were hitting just .203 with 14 strikeouts ending in a Medlen fastball in his 10 previous starts this season.
89 is enough in 2012
The playoff-clinching win was the 89th victory for the Braves this season. Last season, they also won 89 games, but finished one game out of a postseason spot.