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DENVER – When the Colorado Rockies drafted the hometown kid in the first round of the 2014 Draft, nights like these are what they had in mind and what fans began to dream about.
Kyle Freeland has become the response to the notion that pitching with consistent quality in Colorado, at Coors Field, is impossible.
He tossed another beauty on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 2-0 win, allowing just two hits over seven innings of shutout baseball.
He was simply superb, working all corners of the strike zone with every pitch. One of the two base hits he surrendered was a double to his opposite number who took a total guess swing on the first pitch of the at-bat, lining a double into the gap.
The only other time a Pirate made it into scoring position came in Freeland’s final inning after he hit a batter and walked one in an 11-pitch at-bat. But he got a soft liner to left to end his night, able to walk off the mound looking at a big fat zero in the opposition’s run column.
Freeland has a 2.18 ERA in his home ballpark this season.
The Rockies entered the fifth inning without having recorded a hit against Joe Musgrove, the closest they came was in the previous frame when Carlos Gonzalez was robbed by Josh Harrison at second base on a beautiful diving stop and throw.
But Nolan Arenado got his club off the schneid with a base hit to right field to lead off the sixth. Trevor Story followed with a single of his own, back up the middle. Arenado cut the bag perfectly at second and made an aggressive baserunning decision to get to third, barely beating the throw. That paid off when Gerardo Parra hit a grounder toward second that was going to be difficult for Harrison to get two, but in his hurry he dropped the baseball and ended up getting zero.
Arenado scored (which he would have even if the double play had been turned) and then the skies opened up and a fury of rain descended on the ballfield. It was so intense and immediate that the game had to go right into a delay in the middle of Ian Desmond’s at-bat.
After a relatively short break, Desmond stepped back in against Musgrove and was hit in the back by a pitch, loading the bases with nobody out.
Chris Iannetta fought off some tough pitches, working the count full, eventually lining one toward the gap in left that Corey Dickerson was perfectly positioned to catch. But the productive out got Story across the plate. Freeland couldn’t get the bunt down but David Dahl slashed a two-out single to right. Unfortunately for the home team, Pirates right fielder Gregor Polanco has a missile launcher instead of an arm and he gunned Parra down at the plate trying to score a third run.
Seunghwan Oh pitched a clean eighth inning with a strikeout.
Wade Davis, after having blown his last two save opportunities, worked his cleanest inning in quite some time, getting a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of emphatic strikeouts.
Kyle Freeland: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Seunghwan Oh: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Wade Davis: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (S: 32)
Chad Bettis makes his return to the mound on Tuesday after missing a few weeks with a finger blister. He faces off against Jameson Taillon. First pitch at 6:40 Mountain Time.