The Rockies entered today’s game with a chance to take a series from the Dodgers. The road map was bleak, however: Cy Young leader Max Scherzer was on the hill, and the Dodgers were continuing their pursuit of the San Francisco Giants for the NL West lead.
Scherzer struggled and received a full Coors Field welcome. Colorado’s Ramiel Tapia left the yard. Kyle Freeland had himself a day at the plate. A Thursday afternoon crowd looked on at a ballgame full of unpredictable outcomes, and it took an eventual late-inning push to lift L.A. into the win column.
Scherzer’s loss was wiped off the books, as was Freeland’s win.
Freeland out-pitches, out-hits the Cy Young leader
While most of Thursday’s pregame attention was directed toward the visiting bullpen, Kyle Freeland took some attention of his own on the big stage. He had to bulldog his way through six frames, spacing eight hits and earning himself a hard-fought W against one of the league’s most premier lineups.
Freeland posted a scoreless first inning after dancing around a single and walk, All three of his runs allowed came off four hits in the second, but Freeland would settle in with some efficiency. In his final four innings of the day, he saw four hitters or fewer.
Freeland’s final line: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
Scherzer takes first loss with the Dodgers
After being traded to Los Angeles, Scherzer had posted a 0.78 ERA entering this afternoon. That number ballooned to a 1.43 in a single outing, and the Dodgers’ acquired ace will be forced to look toward an upcoming start with the Padres to regain some momentum before the postseason.
Aside from the second inning and one pitch to Raimel Tapia, Scherzer had an otherwise efficient afternoon. He faced the minimum in two of his five frames, but the Rockies were able to string together some second-inning magic that would prove to be a difference maker. Colorado would further capitalize with some serious plate discipline in the fifth.
(Somewhere in Milwaukee, Corbin Burnes has to be thrilled about the performance of the Colorado Rockies this series. The Cy Young stock of both Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer has taken a serious hit.)
Scherzer’s final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Second inning firepower
Eight Dodgers stepped to the plate in the second, pushing Freeland’s pitch count with an early 3-0 lead.
Freeland allowed a leadoff double to longtime NL West foe A.J. Pollock to open up the second inning. Austin Barnes brought him home with a single, and the Dodgers would tack on two more with a Corey Seager single after a Gavin Lux one-bagger.
The first inning had the inner workings of another Max Scherzer masterpiece—groundout, strikeout, flyout—but the Rockies bats fought back in the second. Colorado kicked things off with consecutive singles by Trevor Story and C.J. Cron, followed by an RBI double by Sam Hilliard smoked into center field.
Kyle Freeland, the ninth-hitting pitcher, came to the plate with two outs and two in scoring position. He pieced up a single and tied the ballgame.
Tapia breaks the tie
Scherzer found himself in a fight with Freeland through four innings, each allowing three earned runs. Raimel Tapia give the Rockies the upper hand in the fifth:
#Dodgers RHP Max Scherzer had given up five earned runs in nine starts since joining the club. This homer by Raimel Tapia -- his first since May 21 -- gave the #Rockies five today. They lead, 5-3, in the fifth. pic.twitter.com/9l0sg5h2KR— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) September 23, 2021
Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes called for the pitch high. Scherzer missed low. Tapia golfed it to his pull side. The Rockies took a 5-3 lead, and Tapia touched home plate for his sixth longball of the year.
To make matters worse for Scherzer: he walked the pitcher Freeland just before.
Bard posts a perfect seventh
Daniel Bard has now posted a 2.35 ERA since being taken out of the Rockies’ closer role in late August. He faced pinch-hitter Matt Beaty, leadoff man Mookie Betts and two-hitter Corey Seager in the seventh inning, collecting two strikeouts and a flyout in order.
Chacín dances around minor trouble
The Rockies retained their 5-3 lead until the eight inning. Jhoulys Chacín opened the frame, two days removed from a shutout inning against the same Dodgers, and allowed a leadoff single to Trea Turner.
A stolen base moved Turner to second and he was cashed in by a double from Pollock, the second hit of his afternoon. Chacín escaped the remainder of the frame with a flyout, but the dangerous Dodger lineup was well within striking distance.
Estévez falls short of save number 10
Carlos Estévez was called upon to preserve the one-run ninth. It was looking good early on: Gavin Lux and Albert Pujols kicked off the frame with a strikeout and groundout.
Estévez would then allow a single to Betts, single to Seager, and an RBI single to Trea Turner. Seeing-eye grounders and a liner off Estévez’s leg tied up the ballgame at five. The Rockies were forced to have their hand at Dodger closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth.
Kenley sends the game to extras
A Charlie Blackmon single got the Rockies rolling, but the club was unable to capitalize on some zero-out traffic. Two strikeouts and a groundout ended the threat.
Colorado’s win probability chart went from Pikes Peak highs to Chavez Ravine lows in a hurry.
It didn’t take the Dodgers long to make some noise in the 10th. With the second-base tiebreaker in effect, Max Muncy led off the inning with a two-run blast to center. Colorado’s Lucas Gilbreath would finish the entire frame with a flyout, walk and two groundouts, but not before the Dodgers took a 7-5 lead.
The Rockies looked to answer back in the bottom of the 10th, setting the table with a Trevor Story walk and men on the corners.
C.J Cron stepped to the plate with two outs, but a double play ended the threat and capped off a Dodgers series win.
Larry Walker Weekend is officially upon us, as the number 33 will be retired above the right field bullpens on Saturday.
The San Francisco Giants will take on the Rockies for a three-game set beginning Friday night. Peter Lambert will make his long-awaited return to the big leagues on Friday, a little over a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
He has made seven total minor league appearances this year between High-A Spokane, Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque and has shown for varying degrees of success, posting as much as three shutout frames and as little as a 2/3-inning, three-run showing. It’s a joyous occasion for Lambert to taste the big leagues again, but he will do so against the league’s fourth-ranked wRC+ and a Giants squad as hot as they come.
Alex Wood will start for the Giants. He holds a 3.99 ERA and pitched just three innings in his last start, albeit three shutout innings against the NL East-leading Braves. His last start against the Rockies was just four starts ago at Oracle Park, where he tossed 6 2⁄3 innings of two-run ball. Wood shows a pitch mix of mainly sinkers, along with curveballs and changeups that play some effective arm-side and glove-side run.
First pitch on Friday night—the final Coors Field Friday of the year—is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. MDT. (There will be fireworks!)