No Rock­ies fire­works

Free­land strug­gles as Colorado con­tin­ues down­ward spi­ral with loss at home

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Groke The Den­ver Post

Bud Black stalked to the mound and yelled at his inf ield­ers to stay away. He was about to chew out his pitcher in front of 48,338 peo­ple.

The Rock­ies are tripping to the all-star break, losers of 11 games in their past 13 af­ter an 8-1 tear-down by the vis­it­ing Cincin­nati Reds on Tues­day night at Coors Field. And Kyle Free­land cringed at the cen­ter of his man­ager’s storm.

“I’m not go­ing to tell you about our con­ver­sa­tion,” Black said.

The 24-year-old rookie lefty worked two quick outs in the third in­ning be­fore he un­rav­eled in a way only the Rock­ies as a club can match in the past two weeks. Two sin­gles put run­ners on. Then Free­land threw up and in twice to Jose Per­aza, then an­other high and away, then one more pitch up and in. It was one too many.

The Rock­ies (49-37) once stood 21 games above .500 and atop the Na­tional League West, re­ally not that long ago. But they fell into com­pla­cency. They waited too of­ten for Nolan Are­nado to slug them to vic­tory in the late in­nings. They re­lied too heav­ily on Greg Hol­land to se­cure one-run vic­to­ries, sat­is­fac­tion step­ping in the way of mul­ti­run buf­fers.

And one too many pitches up and in. Per­aza’s line-drive sin­gle to left field off Free­land scored Eu­ge­nio Suarez and the Reds (36-47), start­ing a pitcher who had

not reached the fourth in­ning this sea­son, had more than enough runs in a 4-1 lead to se­cure a run­away vic­tory.

Even home um­pire Bill Miller was hes­i­tant to in­ter­rupt Black’s scold­ing. He walked to the mound to hurry it along but stood silent un­til it ended. Per­haps we can call it a pep talk. Free­land re­tired the next eight bat­ters he faced. But when Per­aza came to bat again in the sixth, he blasted a 445-foot home run to the up­per left-field bleachers.

Then the bar­rage ar­rived. Scott Schebler and pinch-hit­ter Scooter Gen­nett home­red off Adam Ot­tavino in the eighth in­ning for a seven-run lead. The Rock­ies never even saw Hol­land. Are­nado never sniffed a come­back at-bat.

Car­los Gon­za­lez yanked a line-drive sin­gle to right field in the first in­ning to score rookie Raimel Tapia. But against Homer Bai­ley, the Rock­ies stut­tered. The Reds’ 31-year-old right-han­der has pitched two ca­reer no-hit­ters, but not since 2013, and in two pre­vi­ous starts af­ter an in­jury this sea­son, he never made it past the third in­ning.

Against the Rock­ies, Bai­ley cruised through six in­nings. Colorado’s eight hits against him all were sin­gles, but only four bat­ters reached as far as sec­ond base. In a 5-3, se­ries-open­ing vic­tory over the Reds on Mon­day, the Rock­ies struck out eight times, a fore­bod­ing tip of plate strug­gles.

In their past 11 games, the Rock­ies have 14 ex­tra-base hits — and five of them came in Mon­day’s vic­tory.

“You need five or six guys swing­ing the bat well. We do not have that right now,” Black said.

Free­land’s ap­pear­ance Tues­day was meant to be a home­com­ing. The Den­ver na­tive from Thomas Jef­fer­son High School is a bet­ter pitcher at high-al­ti­tude Coors Field than around the league, with a 3.21 ERA and more strike­outs and fewer walks than out­side Colorado.

“In my eyes, it was a rough out­ing. I didn’t have com­mand from the get-go,” Free­land said.

“Kyle hung in there,” Black said. “It wasn’t his best line, but he made some pitches that I thought were de­cent that they got base hits off of. You know what that is? That’s base­ball.”

In his third con­sec­u­tive loss, though, Free­land took the brunt of his man­ager’s ire. Per­haps that ear­ful was in­di­rectly lobbed at the rest of the Rock­ies. They have won as many as seven games in a row this sea­son. It took them nearly three months to lose more than three in a row.

But they can­not seem to es­cape this slump. Next week’s all-star break is an oa­sis. Or a mi­rage.

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Rock­ies man­ager Bud Black vis­its start­ing pitcher Kyle Free­land dur­ing the third in­ning Tues­day night at Coors Field in Colorado’s game against the Cincin­nati Reds. Rookie Free­land al­lowed five runs on eight hits and fell to 8-7 for the sea­son. He has lost in his last three starts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.