In his final start before the All-Star break, Kyle Freeland lit up the Rockies’ dugout in frustration. Monday night in Milwaukee, the left-hander was simply lights out.
Freeland blanked the Brewers over seven innings in Colorado’s 2-0 win at American Family Field, giving up just four hits, striking out seven and allowing just one walk. Freeland threw 99 pitches, 58 strikes.
“After a long layoff like that, especially coming off a game that left a bad taste in your mouth — and then you have to sit all that time, basically with that,” Freeland said. Sitting in your brain, brewing — it (smells),” Freeland said. Correspondent in Milwaukee. “But there’s always another start and you make sure the next time you go out there you’re going to give it your best performance.”
Manager Bud Black told reporters that Freeland just went out and did what he does best.
“Kyle’s strength is his ability to find the ball, especially up and to the right, up and to the left, in and out, change speeds,” Black said. “He used all his pitches and I think tonight was probably the game he pitched the best.”
But as is almost always the case with the Rockies, the victory didn’t come without some late drama. Christian Yelich tagged Daniel Bard with a leadoff single in the ninth, and then second baseman Brandon Rogers grounded into a groundball double play by Willie Adams.
Bard got Andrew McCutchen to fly out to center, though Yelich tagged out and advanced to third. Hunter Renfrow hit a blooper to shallow right in no-man’s land, but Rodgers redeemed himself by making a tough catch for the second out.
Bard then walked pinch-hitter Rowdy Tallies to load the bases. But Rodgers snuffed out Luis Urias’ line drive for the final out, giving Bard his 21st save in 23 chances.
With their victory, the Rockies avoided a four-game sweep by the Brewers and snapped the Brewers’ seven-game winning streak against them.
“I’m very proud to be a stop,” Freeland said. “The last three games have been a grinder for us. … Tonight was a good night and luckily I was able to keep them off the bases.”
In fact, no Brewers baserunner reached second base against Freeland.
In Freeland’s last three starts in July, he was 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA, with opponents hitting .306 in those three games. On Monday night, however, Freeland looked like the pitcher who went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 2018, finishing fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting. Monday was the lefty’s third career start of seven or more shutout innings while striking out seven or more batters — his first since 2018.
And Monday was a 180-degree turn from his start against San Diego on July 14 at Coors Field. After being pulled in that game, Freeland took a 5-2 lead to bat in the dugout on a lighter fixture.
“I didn’t like where that light was in the dugout — it didn’t look good,” deadpanned Freeland after the Rockies beat the Padres 8-5.
The Rockies didn’t do much damage against Milwaukee left-hander Aaron Ashby, but they did plenty.
Red-hot catcher Elias Diaz put the Rockies on the board in the third with Ashby’s leadoff homer. It was Diaz’s sixth homer of the season. Diaz finished the night 1-for-3 with two strikeouts, but he entered the night with six consecutive multi-hit performances, during which he had five doubles, one triple and seven . 500 (12 for 24). RBIs This ranks as the longest multi-hit streak by a catcher in franchise history.
Diaz also made a perfect throw to second to wipe out Uriah trying to steal a base in the fifth.
The Rockies extended their lead to 2-0 in the fifth with some textbook baseball. Colorado resident Roadrunner Garrett Hampson singled and stole second base, his sixth steal in seven tries. Charlie Blackmon moved Hampson from second to third with a groundout and Jonathan Daza drove in Hampson with a sacrifice fly to deep right.
Ashby nearly matched Freeland in his seven-inning, 111-pitch performance, striking out nine and retiring the last seven batters he faced. The Rockies tagged him for just five hits and only one walk.
The Rockies, in the midst of an 18-game streak of 17 games in a row, return to Coors Field on Tuesday night to open a two-game set against the White Sox. The Rockies then host the Dodgers for four games.
On the deck
White Sox RHP Michael Kopich (3-6, 3.36 ERA) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (6-7, 5.47)
Tuesday 6:40 p.m., Coorsfield
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
The ERA is still ugly, but Marquez has been pitching much better lately. He picked up his sixth win of the season vs. the Pirates before the All-Star break, making a quality start after allowing just two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked just one. The right-hander has faced the White Sox just once, in a victory at Coors Field on July 7, 2019, allowing three runs over seven innings with no walks and five strikeouts.
Kopich got the start in Chicago’s 6-2 victory over Minnesota on Friday, allowing two runs and four walks on five hits with two strikeouts over five innings. They gave up two runs in the first inning but held on for the victory. He walked four but managed to stay out of trouble. The 26-year-old right-hander came out of the gate hot, posting a 1.92 ERA in his first 11 games. But he’s struggled lately, putting up a 5.74 ERA through his last six starts. Kopich never faced the Rockies.
Trend Maker: Outfielder Jonathan Daza entered Monday night’s game in Milwaukee with a .265 average with two strikeouts, tied for seventh in the majors and third in the National League. The major league average is .169.
On the issue: Leadoff hitter Connor who is in a slump. He entered Monday’s game hitting .164 with a .313 on-base percentage over his last 19 games, dating back to June 28. In the previous 22 games, from June 2-27, Joe hit .317 with a .434 OBP.
Wednesday: Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-5, 4.98), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM at White Sox RHP Lucas Giolito (6-6, 5.12 ERA).
Thursday: Dodgers LHP Julio Urias (9-6, 2.72) at Rockies RHP Jose Urena (1-2, 3.13), 6:40 p.m., ATTM