Freeland adds to Cy Young case with 15th win
Southpaw goes 2-for-3 with RBI double, run as part of all-around effort
DENVER -- Rockies starter Kyle Freeland continued to make his case for National League Cy Young Award consideration, earning his 15th win of the season and contributing two hits as the first-place Rockies beat the D-backs, 10-3, on Thursday afternoon to take three of four games in the series while pushing their NL West rivals 4 1/2 games back.
"Unbelievable, man," third baseman Nolan Arenado said. "I'm not surprised. He's an unbelievable competitor. I was amazed with him today. I was like, 'He's an animal.' He wants to pitch, he wants to hit, he wants to run, he just wants to be out there. The best pitchers in this game, that's how they are."
Freeland was brilliant for six innings of one-run ball, and he only faltered in the seventh, when the D-backs touched him for two. He left after 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out six, but a calf cramp cropped up in the sixth on the mound and hastened his exit in the seventh.
"We were filling up the zone," Freeland said of his outing, noting the cramp has come up before and is nothing to be concerned about. "We were keeping them on their toes as far as having to attack early. It's a lineup that likes attacking early, and we were able to fill up the zone and hit locations to get weak contact from their attack."
Freeland yielded only two hits in the first six innings -- a leadoff homer to center from A.J. Pollock in the second and a single up the middle from Nick Ahmed in the same frame. After retiring Pollock to lead off the seventh, he gave up a Steven Souza Jr. triple that eluded center fielder David Dahl as he and the ball hit the wall simultaneously, followed by an RBI double to left from Ahmed. Reliever Yency Almonte gave up a Ketel Marte double to right to plate Ahmed and close Freeland's line.
Freeland contributed to a pair of runs on offense, knocking a two-out double to the center-field wall to drive in a run in the second and bunting for a base hit to lead off the fourth. He then scored from first on Dahl's double in the next at-bat.
Freeland improved to 15-7 with a 2.96 ERA, and the Rockies are 12-1 over his past 13 starts. He has the opportunity to become just the second Rockies starter to record a sub-3.00 ERA, following Ubaldo Jimenez, who posted a 2.88 ERA in 2010. Jimenez finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting that year.
"It was a good series for us on both sides of the ball," shortstop Trevor Story said. "Freeland capped it off today. He's been a stud all year. Bringing that energy, that bulldog, he's kind of setting the example."
It's a frequent description of Freeland, who has been the most consistent starter on the Rockies' staff throughout the season. And while teammates and fans are looking at him as the leader, he sees himself as a team player in a close-knit rotation of starters.
"I believe we need to do that collectively as a group, as a starting staff," Freeland said of the "bulldog" role. "It's been that way for most of the year, and we've done a good job of it."