Kyle Freeland came within just two outs of making Colorado Rockies history on Sunday. The rookie left-hander nearly notched the first-ever no-hitter by a Rockies pitcher at Coors Field, instead settling for 8 1⁄3 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball.
Still, without the no-hitter, Freeland wound up with one of the best starts in club history, by Game Score. And, by that same metric, the outing closely resembled one particularly memorable start.
Freeland’s Game Score of 87 was just one point off of the 88 that Ubaldo Jimenez acheived on April 17, 2010. You may remember that as the game in which Jimenez tossed the only no-hitter in Rockies history in a 4-0 win over the Braves in Atlanta. In that outing, Jimenez walked six batters but struck out seven in 128 pitches. Freeland yesterday exhibited similar control issues at times but wound up issuing only three walks and struck out nine over 127 pitches.
Melky Cabrera’s jam job ensured that Freeland wouldn’t make Coors Field history, but in all reality it did little to diminish what was still a notable performance at 20th & Blake, though completing the ninth inning itself would’ve vaulted him above above Jimenez. The 24-year-old Denver native still turned in the fourth-best start by a Rockies pitcher at Coors Field and the seventh-best by a Colorado hurler overall, per Baseball-Reference:
Jon Gray, Sept. 17, 2016 vs. Padres: 95
Darryl Kile, Sept. 20, 1998 at Padres: 91
Jeff Francis, July 24, 2006 vs. Cardinals: 91
Chad Bettis, Sept. 5, 2016 vs. Giants: 90
Pedro Astacio, Aug. 10, 1999 at Brewers: 89
Ubaldo Jimenez, April 17, 2010 at Braves: 88
Kyle Freeland, July 9, 2017 vs. White Sox: 87
Perhaps the best part about that list is that three of the seven pitchers are currently on the Rockies’ roster and, when Bettis returns from the rehab assignment that he’ll start this Thursday, each of those three will be in the team’s rotation. It should tell you two things: pitching in the steroid era/in pre-humidor Coors Field was a fool’s errand, and the Rockies have more talent on the mound now than they ever have.
That may or may not result in someone joining Jimenez in no-hitter company, but it very well could end up in a batch of new names populating the top portion of the “highest Game Scores in Rockies history” list.