The Rockies snapped the five-game losing streak with a feel-good win — one highlighted by a monster home run by Trevor Story — on Tuesday night. Despite striking out 13 times on the night, the Rockies got six extra-base hits to cash in three runs. Story also added a double, while Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers each hit RBI doubles.
The Rockies pitchers were impressive, led by Kyle Freeland, who earned his seventh win of the season. Even the bullpen looked shape and didn’t cause fans to stress out, which was nice.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Story hit his longest homer of the year. It was gone as soon as Story made contact and it didn’t land until 475 feet later.
The shot put the Rockies up 2-0, which was the first time the Rockies had a lead since the fourth inning on Saturday against the Giants. The homer was Story’s 24th of the season and 95th at Coors Field in his six-year career as a Rockie. As he rounded the bases and touched the plate, the crowd treated him to a standing ovation as everyone realized it might be the last time Story hits a homer dressed in purple.
Story’s homer was one of six hits given up by Nationals starter Patrick Corbin, who gave up two runs in six innings and struck out nine Rockies.
After a down year in 2019, a weird pandemic-shortened season in 2020, and a start on the IL this season, Kyle Freeland has finally found his groove. For the fourth straight start, Freeland made it at least six innings and kept the Rockies in the game. On Tuesday night against the Nationals, he gave up one run on six hits in 6 2⁄3 innings with three strikeouts and four walks. He was hammering right-handed hitters with inside fastballs and “a good sinker to the lefties,” as Bud Black noted in the postgame press conference. He got the Nationals to hit eight ground balls, two of which resulted in double plays.
Washington got a runner on base in each of the first four innings against Freeland, but no damage was done. Freeland’s only baserunner-free inning came in the fifth. The sixth started with a walk to Alcides Escobar, but Freeland then got Juan Soto to hit into a double play and struck out Ryan Zimmerman.
The only drama came in the seventh when Freeland got one out, but then gave up back-to-back singles to Yadiel Hernandez and Carter Kieboom. After Luis Garcia flew out, Freeland walked Josh Bell to load the bases and walked Lane Thomas, allowing Hernandez to score. Freeland got Thomas down 0-2 early, but then seemed to lose command with four straight balls and exited the game visibly frustrated. Tyler Kinley entered the game and got Escobar to fly out and prevent what could have been a very big Nationals inning.
RyMac and El cangrejo come up big
Ryan McMahon got the Rockies on the board in the fourth when C.J. Cron walked, Elias Díaz singled, and RyMac smacked a double to score Cron. It put the Rockies up 1-0 and seem to put the momentum on their side.
Pinch-hitting for Kinley in the seventh, Raimel Tapia led off the seventh with a triple. As always, his helmet flew off his head between first and second and he gave the Rockies a chance to add to their 2-1 lead. The triple was only the second of the year for Tapia and both have come in September.
Raimel Tapia's 2nd triple of the season pic.twitter.com/JUsehT9yRb— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) September 29, 2021
Two batters later, Brendan Rodgers, who seems to have recovered just fine from taking a pitch to the head on Monday night, hit a double to easily score Tapia.
Brendan Rodgers' 20th double of the season scores Raimel Tapia pic.twitter.com/S0onbkmm2d— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) September 29, 2021
Kinley got the biggest out of the game and was followed by Jordan Sheffield, who had a great eighth inning. He started with striking out Soto, and then despite giving up an infield single to Zimmerman, Sheffield forced Keibert Ruiz to hit into a double play — the third turned by the defense on the night.
In the ninth, Carlos Estévez didn’t get off to a great start by walking Hernandez. Kieboom followed with a grounder that should have been a double play, but Story’s throw was too high and pulled Cron off the bag. On the next pitch, Story found redemption. Garcia hit a grounder to Rodgers, who flipped it to Story, who then cleanly and crisply threw it to Cron for the fourth double play of the game to seal the Rockies in.
The Rockies will conclude the series with the Nationals on Wednesday for the last 2021 game at Coors Field. Peter Lambert (0-0, 4.91 ERA) will get his second start for the Rockies since returning from Tommy John surgery and the Nationals will have RHP Paolo Espino (5-5, 4.01 ERA) on the mound.