The Colorado Rockies are fun. They are fun, among other reasons, because their rookie pitchers have been outstanding, the back of the bullpen has been nails, and a few standout hitters have carried the offense. On a day they needed a win, the Rockies got back to that formula with a solid start from Kyle Freeland, big hits from the key guys in the lineup, and a Greg Holland save to close things out as they beat the Seattle Mariners 6-3.
Coming off a scoreless effort on Wednesday night, the offense got a spark early thanks to none other than the Sheriff of Swattingham. Mark Reynolds socked a two-run dinger in the second inning, staking the Rockies to an early lead. It was a 450-foot home run that reminded you of the big-swinging Reynolds of old, and it just adds to the intrigue of what could be if he keeps pairing that power with his new contact-heavy approach.
The rally continued in that second inning with a ground-rule double from Gerardo Parra, an RBI single from Trevor Story, and a sacrifice fly from Charlie Blackmon.
After the Mariners answered with a Guilllermo Heredia home run in the bottom of the second, it was Nolan Arenado's turn to hold up his end of things with a home run of his own. The early offense proved to be enough for Kyle Freeland, the rookie pitcher who was able to come through on this day.
There's no shortage of pressure on the day's starting pitcher when your team has lost three straight games. These are the kinds of games that often get away from young starters, but Freeland proved he was up to the task. Although it was a grind at times, he delivered six solid innings, giving up just two runs with three strikeouts and a couple of walks.
Freeland labored through the early innings, dealing with lots of traffic and putting himself in a number of jams that could have been much worse. He wiggled out of those situations in the second and third inning, and then was helped by sharp defense from Gerardo Parra and Nolan Arenado to put an end to the threat in the fourth inning.
What was most encouraging was the fact that Freeland only seemed to improve as the game wore on and as hitters saw more of him. That’s not how things are supposed to go, and it seems to show some level of poise as the kid delivered another solid start from a young rotation that has been full of them this year.
Things got a little dicey when Freeland handed things off to the bullpen, with the normally reliable Chris Rusin stubbing his toe in the seventh inning. The lefty was able to limit the damage, however, allowing just a single run and getting two outs in the heart of the Seattle lineup to escape the jam.
Jake McGee handled the setup work in the eighth inning and did so effectively, although he had to overcome a double off the bat of Carlos Ruiz and a wild pitch. This is the part where I ask if you knew Ruiz was on the Mariners before this week, call you a liar if you claim you did, and then say you deserve some sort of prize if you’re telling the truth. Even though you’re definitely lying.
Anyhow, that McGee is able to step up in that spot is no small success for the Rockies as they fill in for an injured Adam Ottavino and a struggling Mike Dunn. One might dare call that bullpen depth, even. Finally, Greg Holland closed out the game for his 20th save because of course he did.
It would be dramatic to call a four-game losing streak a disaster, but it's still nice to see the Rockies stop the bleeding before their struggles this week turned into a tailspin. They'll now head to San Diego for a series against the Padres.