Two’s enough for Freeland
Kyle Freeland gave up just two hits throughout his start, and somehow that was enough to put him in place for the loss when he left the game. The left-hander battled through long at-bats and occasional command issues to throw 4 1⁄3 strong innings, not allowing a base hit through the first four frames. The only Pittsburgh base runners to that point had been by way of a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
The fifth inning, though, was where his troubles arose. It started innocuously enough with a strikeout of Yoshi Tsutsugo before an excuse-me swing from Diego Castillo stayed ever-so-slightly fair down the right field line for a double. Pirates rookie Cal Mitchell, playing in his first MLB game, then lifted a bloop to center field that scored Castillo and gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Not a bad way to collect your first major league hit and RBI.
After walking Michael Pérez, Freeland was lifted for Jhoulys Chacín. The veteran sinkerballer did manage to record the final two outs without issue, but that one run scored would seem insurmountable for most of the game.
The Rockies weren’t without their chances to score. Take the top of the second inning, when a two-out walk and double by Randal Grichuk and José Iglesias, respectively, put runners at second and third. Sam Hilliard sent the first pitch of his at-bat out to center field to end the threat without anything to show.
The top of the fourth frame was much the same. A one-out single by Brendan Rodgers (who has now extended his hit streak to 12 games) put a man on base. He was followed by a two-out single by Iglesias that, after stealing second base, once again put two men in scoring position with two outs. Hilliard’s second run-scoring opportunity went much the way of his first, though, as he struck out to let rookie starter Roansy Contreras off the hook.
Contreras, making just his second MLB start, utilized a fastball-slider-curveball combination to keep the Rockies off-balance. He threw five innings and allowed three hits and two walks while striking out five. He has yet to be scored upon in his eight total innings as a starter.
Finally breaking through
It took some doing, but the Rockies finally managed to scrape across a run in the eighth inning. Elías Díaz led off the frame and reached on a fielding error by shortstop Rodolfo Castro. He was then pinch-run for by Garrett Hampson, who moved to third base on Charlie Blackmon’s one-out single. Pittsburgh then brought in reliever Chris Stratton to escape the jam, and he started off right by striking out C.J. Cron (Cron, who went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, is hitting under .200 away from Coors). Now with two outs, Ryan McMahon came through with an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.
The Rockies would not score again that inning, but with the game tied, they were that much closer to victory.
Ninth inning scaries
The Rockies bullpen was great on Tuesday, as Chacín teamed up with Lucas Gilbreath and Alex Colomé to combine for 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three (thanks in part to some great defense by Ryan McMahon).
They did their job to relay things to Daniel Bard, who would try to keep the game tied and send it to extra innings.
It wouldn’t come easily. Bard walked Castro before striking out Tsutsugo as Castro stole second. Pinch-hitter Josh VanMeter then sent a foul ball terrifyingly close to the third base bag, almost a sure-fire walkoff hit, before settling for an infield single to put the winning run at third base with one out. Up came the rookie Mitchell, who grounded out to short. Iglesias threw to home to cut down the run, and Bard got Pérez to ground out to tight-rope walk out of the jam.
Go CoJoe, Go!
Now in the tenth inning and facing David Bednar, the Rockies finally took their first lead of the game thanks to a base hit by Connor Joe. Joe, who was originally drafted by the Pirates in 2014, sent a 1-1 fastball right back up the middle to score Hilliard from second, putting Colorado up for good as Bard pitched a clean bottom of the tenth to seal the deal.
Connor Joe puts Rockies in front pic.twitter.com/cJeQhvpjZJ— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) May 25, 2022
The Rockies get the victory, but have not scored an earned run in their last three games. It’s the first time in Colorado’s history that they have gone that long without an earned run.
But hey, a win’s a win!
There’s one game to go in Pittsburgh as the Rockies and Pirates finish up their series. Ryan Feltner (0-1, 7.20 ERA) gets the start for Colorado in just his second appearance of the season. Zach Thompson (2-4, 4.88 ERA) gets the ball for Pittsburgh.
First pitch is at 10:35am MDT. See you then!