Called on to pinch-run, Freeland unharmed after collision at home

April 16th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- Odd circumstances left , the Rockies No. 1 pitcher, but pinch-runner for a night, trying to score the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning on Monday.

Freeland rolled around the dirt near the plate in pain, favoring his non-throwing right arm and shoulder, after colliding with his former teammate and longtime friend, Phillies right-hander Jeff Hoffman, whose pitch eluded catcher J.T. Realmuto. Then Freeland's frustration boiled over when a replay review didn't overturn the out call at the plate to end the inning.

The colorful pain and frustration led to another Rockies one-run loss, 2-1, in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park.

Freeland appeared to have dodged injury, which is the best-case scenario for the Rockies. On July 9, Freeland sustained a dislocated right shoulder while making a defensive play. He made his next start on July 28.

"Kyle's fine," manager Bud Black said, and a club official reiterated that there was no severe injury.

Hoffman, predictably, emerged from the pile-up in good humor.

"I wish baseball was more of a contact sport," said Hoffman, who told reporters he spoke to Freeland after the game and believes his friend was not hurt. "That was a crazy play for two pitchers to be involved in -- just a crazy play. He threw it in a perfect spot for me. I just slapped the tag on him as quick as I could. We both got there at the same time."

Freeland, who was not available after the game, was pinch-running due to a vexing roster situation.

The Rockies scratched second baseman Brendan Rodgers nearly an hour before the game because of an illness. Bench player and ex-Phillie Jake Cave, also dealing with an illness, spent the night at the team hotel. Kris Bryant's back was still sore from his twisting crash into the right-field wall in Toronto on April 13. Catcher Jacob Stallings was the only non-pitcher on the bench.

So when Rockies catcher Elias Díaz doubled off Hoffman with two out in the ninth -- and was barely quick enough to reach second -- Black felt he had to take a chance with Freeland.

Freeland took third on a wild pitch, then dashed homeward when another pitch got away from Realmuto. It took a replay to sort it out and break the Rockies' hearts. No obstruction was ruled, and there was no way to determine if Freeland's foot touched the plate before he was tagged by Hoffman, who landed on him.

"No obstruction -- the home-plate umpire saw it as a convergence of two players coming in, both trying to make a play," Black said. "Kyle was trying to get to home plate and Hoffman was trying to get the ball from Realmuto. The convergence and the speed of the play was such where no blocking-the-plate was called."

When Freeland wasn't ruled safe, the Rockies were on their way to 0-4 in one-run games. The Phillies' Cristian Pache rolled an RBI single through the right side against Jake Bird with two out in the bottom of the 10th.

The game offered much promise. Starter Cal Quantrill held the Phils to one run and four hits in six innings, forcing eight ground-outs. Michael Toglia knocked his fourth homer of the year -- off otherwise effective Phillies starter Aaron Nola (7 1/3 innings, four hits, nine strikeouts) in the fifth.

Quantrill turned in the Rockies' fifth quality start in the last 10 games.

A previously leaky bullpen got airtight efforts from Justin Lawrence, Jalen Beaks and Nick Mears before Bird forced two grounders with a runner at third, but the second one rolled through.

"I think we're talented enough to win," Quantrill said. "Right now, we're learning how to do that. We're going through a tough go over here with a lot of good teams. We've had some tough losses.

"But there are some things to be excited about. Toglia, that was a hell of a swing, and our bullpen did a very good job. We're piecing it together. And we're going to stack some wins together."