Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals were accustomed to seeing David Freese come through in the clutch, especially when it came to the sixth game of the 2011 World Series and his dramatic home run against the Texas Rangers.
Freese isn’t quite lighting the scoreboard on fire in his inaugural season with the Los Angeles Angels, but he played an integral role in Sunday’s win over the Kansas City Royals. His two-run single tied the score and lifted a batting average that had been stuck around the .200 mark. It is the latest good game Freese has had since his return from the 15-day disabled list.
Freese hurt a finger during the team’s May 2 game against the Rangers, and he immediately went on the DL. During that time Ian Stewart filled in at third, but he too went down with an injury and it looked like the Angels would be stuck for a while.
Then Freese returned on May 20, and ever since he has flashed signs of average and power for the Angels. With six hits in his last five games, Freese has shown he can be a decent hitter in the Angels lineup.
It wasn’t always like this. Before the calendar turned to May, many fans wondered if the Freese-for-Peter Bourjos trade between the Angels and Cardinals would be a wash. Bourjos hit so badly that he lost regular playing time, but the outfielder turned things around and has seen increased time in recent games.
Freese never wound down to the point where manager Mike Scioscia removed him from the lineup, but he got off to a slow start. The injury may have been a blessing in disguise for Freese. Maybe the time away forced Freese to work on his swing. Maybe he watched extra game footage. Could he have identified a few flaws in his swing?
Whatever the case, Freese’s bat is back in action and his spot at third is safe for the time being. He still has a .216 batting average, which is way below what he normally has hit in his years with the Cardinals. His ability to turn around a ballgame, however insignificant, is still there.
It may not be the sixth game of the World Series, but right now the Angels will take a win; and that’s all that matters.