Freddie Freeman waited four days and 11 at-bats for career hit No.1,999.
He wasted no time collecting career hit No.2,000.
In the Dodgers’ 6-5, 11-inning loss to the Houston Astros on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, Freeman’s milestone moment couldn’t prevent a series-finale defeat that ended the team’s four-game winning streak. But it sure came close.
With the Dodgers trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the six-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger and increasingly apparent future Hall of Famer got his 2,000th hit on an RBI double to right-center field.
Moments later, with a crowd of 47,273 still buzzing from the achievement, catcher Will Smith blasted a two-run homer to center field to tie the score — setting off another wild celebration that was punctuated with a curtain call for Freeman, who stood in the dugout and waved to the fans on their feet, clapping their hands and chanting his name.
“Everyone views success differently in their careers and how they go about it, but hits and average, that is what I care about,” said Freeman, who became the 295th player in major league history with 2,000 hits, and the seventh to get there wearing a Dodgers uniform.
“If I have a lot of hits and I have a good average, that means I’m getting on base a lot for our team and we’re able to score a lot of runs,” Freeman added.
“That’s how I view it. I like hits. Hopefully we get a lot more.”
Freeman’s two hits Sunday didn’t add up to a win, not on a day in which starter Tony Gonsolin gave up four runs in five innings, the Astros scored their automatic runner in both the 10th and 11th innings, and the Dodgers’ offense ran out of gas against Houston’s balky bullpen, failing to score more than five runs for the 11th time in the last 12 games.
Still, with the Dodgers a week removed from being swept at home by the San Francisco Giants and mired in one of the worst 30-game stretches in recent franchise memory, the series win over the Astros and 4-1 stretch represented an important step forward — even if it ended with Freeman being toasted in the clubhouse Sunday after a loss.
“I seem to get these milestones in losses,” joked Freeman, who hit his 300th home run earlier this season in another Dodgers defeat. “That’s what Doc [manager Dave Roberts] said in the little speech after — it’s a little curse. But just seeing how happy my dad, my stepmom, my wife, my kids were for me, just makes it special.”
The Dodgers (43-34) were headed toward a much more decisive loss to the Astros (42-36) when Freeman came to the plate with two outs in the eighth.
Having ended a rare 0-for-11 streak a few innings earlier with a double down the left-field line, Freeman golfed a low changeup from Astros reliever Rafael Montero to deep right-center, hitting a line drive just beyond the reach of outfielder Kyle Tucker.
As the ball caromed off the wall, Mookie Betts — whose leadoff home run had been the Dodgers’ only scoring to that point — raced home from second. Those in the home dugout and crowd jumped to their feet. And once Freeman pulled into the base safely, he doffed his helmet and absorbed the scene.
“I just marvel at his consistency,” Roberts said. “His every day, workmanlike attitude.”
Freeman, who had previously been without a hit since a home run Wednesday, noted afterward he hasn’t felt great with his swing for most of this month (he entered Sunday batting .219 in June) and that his wife, Chelsea, and oldest son, 6-year-old Charlie, were planning to fly to Colorado for the Dodgers’ upcoming trip if he didn’t reach 2,000 hits this weekend.
“It took long enough, but I’m glad it happened at home,” he said. “I’m glad I got it today just so my family could see it.”
Freeman said he hadn’t been pressing to eclipse 2,000 hits — “I’m hoping to get more than 2,000,” he said with a laugh — but was struck when informed he was only the 98th player in major league history to reach the mark with 300 homers.
“It’s hard for me to put into words,” he said. “When you do stuff like this … I think about my dad back in the day, all the batting practice he’s thrown. It’s not just me, it’s him, it’s all the sacrifices he’s made, my family’s made. It’s just special to achieve some of these things.”
And now that he has 2K under his belt, is the 33-year-old thinking about potentially getting to 3,000 someday?
“That’s only in good health and if I can keep playing the way I want to play,” Freeman said. “Father Time, it’s going to come up at some point. But obviously that would be really cool.”
In the short term, Freeman was more focused on the team’s recent play — contrasting even Sunday’s performance, in which the Dodgers tied the score again in the 10th inning on a sacrifice fly from Betts before eventually falling on Alex Bregman’s go-ahead single in the 11th, to some of the more lopsided losses the team had suffered before this week.
“Just much better baseball is being played by us,” Freeman said. “Hopefully we can continue that trend in Denver and on the road trip.”
Fortunately for him, his wife and son won’t have to follow him there, their week-long wait for his 2,000th hit finally ending in another moment of memorable history.
The Dodgers put Chris Taylor (knee) on the injured list, nine days after he sustained an injury that had limited him to two pinch-hit at-bats in the last week. Yonny Hernández was called up in his place. … Julio Urías (hamstring) struck out eight in a one-run, four-inning rehabilitation start with single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday.