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Historic matchup between Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland doesn't go the Colorado Rockies way

Patrick Lyons Avatar
May 21, 2023

Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland have so much in common that its only fitting they line up across from one another in a historic matchup for the Colorado Rockies organization. 

In consecutive years, the pair were selected with top 10 draft picks by Colorado: Gray at no. 3 from the Univ. of Oklahoma in 2013 and Freeland at no. 8 from the Univ. of Evansville. Same for starting the National League Wild Card Game: Gray with a loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017 and Kyle Freeland going seven innings during a win over the Chicago Cubs.

On Saturday, the pair of two-time Opening Day Rockies’ starters went head-to-head with Gray exiting as the winner in the 11-5 affair. Together, they were the first starters to face off against one another with more than 150 games started for Colorado.

It looked to be a promising day for Freeland and company when Charlie Blackmon began the game with a double against his former teammate, tying Larry Walker for second-most in franchise history with 297 doubles in the process. Jurickson Profar singled and Kris Byrant walked to load the bases, but Colorado failed to cash in on the opportunity.

May 20, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland (21) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In the bottom of the first, the Rangers strung together five hits and scored four runs. Entering the day, Freeland had given up just two first-inning runs over his first nine starts of the season.

Texas scored four more times in the second — only two were earned runs after Ryan McMahon committed his fourth fielding error of the year. Jake Bird came out for the third inning and like that, the matchup between two of the greatest starting pitchers in Rockies history was over.

Gray continued to show the abilities that earned him a four-year, $56 million deal from the Rangers following the 2021 season. It wouldn’t be until the fourth when McMahon, Mike Moustakas and Harold Castro put together three singles that Gray would give up his lone run through five innings of work. He gave up five hits in total, walked two and struck out six during his shortest outing in a month.

Since leaving the only organization he’d known for almost a decade, the Gray Wolf has a 3.69 ERA over 33 starts with the Rangers since the start of 2022. Freeland, conversely, worked with the Rockies through the 2021-22 offseason and signed a five-year, $64.5 million deal to remain in Denver. His 4.22 ERA in 40 starts over the past two seasons took a hit with Saturday’s performance. 

Diamond Details

  • The loss on Saturday insures Colorado will lose their first road series since winning one of four in Philadelphia on April 20-23. They entered the Gray-Freeland bout with an 11-5 record over their last 17 and 13-9 through their last 21 since April 24, a .591 winning percentage that was tied for the third-best mark in the NL over that span.
  • Freeland (159, 5th) and Gray (151, 7th), both rank in the top seven in Rockies franchise history in games started.
  • Only twice before have two starting pitchers with at least 100 starts with the Rockies faced each other, both occurring in 2005: 
    • Jamey Wright vs. Pedro Astacio (SD) on Aug. 28
    • Jason Jennings vs. John Thomson (ATL) on May 10
  • With the Rangers win over the Rockies, Bruce Bochy improves to 106-106 (.500) against teams managed by Bud Black. Bochy has faced off against Black more than any other manager (212 games) with Clint Hurdle and Dusty Baker currently tied for second-most (194).

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