For only the second time in the 27-year history of Coors Field, the Rockies played a 0-0 home game through nine innings.
37,336 fans walked through the gates at 20th and Blake on Friday night to witness one of the greatest pitching duels in Coors Field history — until five runs were scored in the 10th inning at the hand of wild pitches and Matt Olson heroics.
The over/under for tonight’s game was set at a generous 11 runs. Starting pitchers Max Fried and Chad Kuhl would absolutely disrespect that line, combining for 14 innings of shutout baseball with only two runners reaching third base.
Fried carves through eight innings
The Rockies were allowed just two hits against the left-hander Fried. His season-high eight innings were enough to lower his ERA from a 3.10 to a 2.74.
It wasn’t an abundance of strikeouts that led to a successful night — he averaged just one every two innings — but rather an unthinkable amount of ground balls that pushed him through the eighth. Fried had 14 ground-ball outs on the night compared to five on fly balls.
Fried threw 102 pitches through eight innings.
Colorado’s biggest threat at scoring in regulation came in the sixth after a leadoff double by Randal Grichuk. The Rockies would then be set down in order, all with balls in play. Grichuk’s only movement came on a ground ball out that moved him to third.
The next closest threat? Connor Joe led off the fourth with a base hit. His single was quickly extinguished too, however, with Fried recording three ground-ball outs to the next three hitters.
One other Rockie would reach base with Fried on the mound. A eighth-inning, one-out walk to Ryan McMahon was followed by a flyout and strikeout. Fried ended his night with McMahon stranded at first.
Fried’s final line: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K.
Kuhl goes toe-to-toe with six zeros
Atlanta’s first inning was far more threatening than the eight that would follow. Once Chad Kuhl worked around consecutive singles to begin the game, two walks would ensue. One run would have scored if not for Ronald Acuña Jr. called out at third base.
Kuhl cruised after the first. He sat down 15 of the next 18 batters he faced.
His three strikeouts in six total frames were exactly on par with Fried’s mark per inning. The Rockies worked around five hits by their starter, but none of the three that reached base after the first inning would advance to second base.
Kuhl’s final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K
The table was set. 0-0 through six was just a taste of what was to come.
Bullpens dominate in regulation
Alex Colomé, Tyler Kinley and Daniel Bard staffed the seventh, eighth and ninth inning respectively:
- 7th: Colomé sat down the Braves in order.
- 8th: Kinley danced around a pair of singles without allowing them to touch third.
- 9th: Bard allowed a one-out walk but otherwise faced the minimum.
12 total batters faced the Rockies’ first three relievers. Nine of them were retired.
Atlanta’s bullpen was preserved through Fried’s eight innings of work; only one arm, A.J. Minter, was needed to push this game into extras.
The table was set. 0-0 through nine.
This next section is where you cover your eyes.
Buckle up, 10th inning
Bard threw 42 pitches on Wednesday, so a second inning out of him tonight was far from a reasonable ask. Manager Bud Black instead opted for the flamethrower Carlos Estévez, riding the momentum of his consecutive, and strong, scoreless appearances (2 IP, 6 BF).
Estévez began the night with the tiebreaker runner on second. He ended the night with three runs allowed.
He recorded a quick groundout to kick off the 10th, but a wild pitch would move Atlanta’s Adam Duvall to third. A hit-by-pitch would then put Dansby Swanson on first, and with one out and runners on the corners, a second wild pitch would finally put a run on the scoreboard.
It took 69 total at-bats and an extra-inning runner on second for the first run of the game to score — and it did so on two wild pitches.
Estévez would strike out Marcell Ozuna for the second out of the inning. He then stayed for an intentional walk, but was removed with bases loaded and two outs.
A one-run deficit would have been manageable for the Rockies offense in the bottom of the 10th. Atlanta’s 10 blown saves entering Friday was tied for the most in the National League, so not all was lost if Colorado found a way to escape the jam.
Black called upon Lucas Gilbreath to go left-on-left with Matt Olson at the plate.
An 0-2 count with two outs ensued. The 0-2 pitch was executed — but Olson just found a way to put it in the outfield grass:
Matt Olson extends the lead in extras! pic.twitter.com/rLOs2t0qy7— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 4, 2022
(How far do you have to miss outside with Matt Olson at the plate and an 0-2 count?)
Two runs would score on Olson’s single to right, both credited as earned runs on Estévez’s final line. Gilbreath would end the inning with a strikeout, and a 3-0 lead was handed to
Dodgers Braves closer Kenley Jansen.
California Love ATLiens shut the door
Yonathan Daza made it interesting. His one-out single off Jansen cashed in the Rockies’ first run of the game.
The tying run was at the plate for Colorado’s final two hitters of the night.
Jansen retired Jose Iglesias on a fielder’s choice and Ryan McMahon on a punchout.
The 10th inning showed little resemblance to the 0-0 tie it succeeded, but the Coors Field pitcher’s mound took center stage through it all.
Atlanta’s Spencer Strider will match up against Colorado’s Kyle Freeland on Saturday night, and the momentum from either starter suggests we could see a little more runs scored than today.
Saturday will be Strider’s 13th pitching appearance on the year and only his second start; his first came in his last outing on May 30th where he allowed five earned runs to the Diamondbacks over 4 1⁄3 innings.
Freeland pitched 5 2⁄3 innings on May 29 in Washington during his last start, allowing five earned runs and walking a season-high four batters.
The Rockies will debut the new City Connect uniforms for the first time on Saturday, and first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. MDT.