The Rockies showed a glimpse of what they are fully capable of as they utilized timely hitting, gritty pitching and good defense to collect a victory over the dreaded Dodgers, 5-3 on Saturday.
Both starters found themselves in some trouble at the beginning of the game as they were attacked early by the opposing offense. A seemingly-innocuous Freddie Freeman infield single was made significant when he scored on Will Smith’s subsequent double to give LA a 1-0 lead, making Saturday the third straight game in which the Dodgers scored in the opening frame. The Rockies would strike back quickly though as two infield singles put runners on first and second base for José Iglesias. He sent a ball to third that wasn’t handled by Max Muncy, allowing a run to score and tie the game. Randal Grichuk would then add on with an RBI single to give Colorado a 2-1 lead (he was thrown out while trying for a double, but let’s not dwell on that).
The Dodgers counterpunched in the top of the third when a home run off the bat of Trea Turner and RBI single by Hanser Alberto returned the lead to the visitors at 3-2. There it would remain for the next few innings as both pitchers found their groove.
Left-handers duel in Denver
Not all pitchers’ duels are 1-0 complete game battles; sometimes it’s just two players finding their rhythm midway through a game, and that was the case on Saturday. Following that run-scoring top of the third, both Clayton Kershaw and Kyle Freeland found their comfort zones and kept the opposing batters off the basepaths. Kershaw retired seven in a row at one point from the second inning to the fourth, and that baserunner came after an infield single and throwing error. Freeland, for his part, matched the LA legend by also retiring seven straight, including four strikeouts in a row at one juncture.
Kyle Freeland strikes out the side in the 5th pic.twitter.com/7l5ljz7Ytr— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) July 31, 2022
As “KFree” completed his outing having thrown six innings of three-run ball (thanks in part to Grichuk runing down a deep fly ball to the gap to keep LA from scoring again), the Dodgers took their one-run lead to the bottom of the sixth, where Kershaw looked to continue his dominance over Colorado’s bats.
With one out, Brendan Rodgers stepped to the plate to try to get a rally started. He did so with a base knock to right field, and was joined on the basepaths by José Iglesias, whose excuse-me swing plopped the ball into right field for a hit. With two on for Grichuk, he came through with his second triple in as many nights as he sent a line drive just inside the right field foul line to score Rodgers and Iglesias and give Colorado the advantage at 4-3.
Elias Díaz would then score Grichuk on a base hit, putting the score at 5-3 and ending Kershaw’s night prematurely. It would now be up to Colorado’s bullpen to hold the lead for three more innings.
Bard’s bullpen shows out
On the day that the Rockies chose to reward their bullpen leader with a two-year contract extension, Colorado’s relief corps showed what they can do as they protected the late lead. Lucas Gilbreath pitched a clean seventh frame in which every out was recorded by Garrett Hampson at third base, while Alex Colomé worked a 1-2-3 eighth. Colomé was aided by a nice diving play in left field by Yonathan Daza that even the batter, Freeman, couldn’t help but tip his cap to.
Yonathan Daza makes a smooth catch pic.twitter.com/tBIm4170rB— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) July 31, 2022
Bard entered and pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the victory and send the sold-out Coors Field crowd home happy. A game that showed what the Rockies can do when they play at their best ended with a victory.
The Rockies and Dodgers have one more to play in their series, which will take place on Sunday afternoon. That contest will pit LA’s Tony Gonsolin (11-1, 2.26 ERA, losing pitcher in 2022 MLB All-Star Game) against Colorado’s Germán Márquez (6-8, 5.25 ERA).
First pitch is at 1:10pm MDT. See you then!