Freese got the call at third base and the No. 5 spot in the batting order, offering needed depth to a lineup doing without usual No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols. Punto started at second base in place of Skip Schumaker, giving the lefty-swinging Schumaker a day off against tough left-handed starter Zach Britton.
Neither wasted much time making an impact. Freese singled off Britton in his first at-bat and later scored on Mark Hamilton's single. Punto followed with an RBI single of his own, plating Colby Rasmus, who'd walked.
Both infielders spent a week rehabbing in the Minor Leagues. Freese missed nearly two months due to a broken bone in his left hand, whereas Punto was out about six weeks because of a right forearm strain.
Freese came away from his Minor League experience very pleased with how he saw the ball and swung the bat.
"I went down with the objective to make sure I was seeing the ball," Freese said. "Working counts, not just going up there and seeing the first heater and attacking it. I felt good. I was seeing balls. I was taking offspeed [pitches] out of the zone, and that was one [thing] I was kind of worried about."
Punto, meanwhile, had only three games in the field to test his sore arm after serving as designated hitter for the beginning of his rehab assignment, but he has no worries going forward.
"[On Sunday] I had to dive up the middle, get up quick and make a strong throw to first," Punto said. "And that was kind of, for me, a mental block. It was nice to be able to do that."