Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Freeland shuts down Giants in best start yet

Special to MLB.com

DENVER -- In the Rockies' home opener two weeks ago, Kyle Freeland made his Major League debut in his hometown and threw six innings of one-run ball at Coors Field for the win. It didn't seem like it could get any better.

Until Sunday. In his fourth start, Freeland put up seven goose eggs at Coors Field, shutting out the Giants and securing a series sweep with an 8-0 victory, scattering six hits and just one walk while striking out three. He retired the first 11 batters he faced, nine of them on groundouts.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- In the Rockies' home opener two weeks ago, Kyle Freeland made his Major League debut in his hometown and threw six innings of one-run ball at Coors Field for the win. It didn't seem like it could get any better.

Until Sunday. In his fourth start, Freeland put up seven goose eggs at Coors Field, shutting out the Giants and securing a series sweep with an 8-0 victory, scattering six hits and just one walk while striking out three. He retired the first 11 batters he faced, nine of them on groundouts.

View Full Game Coverage

"My fastball especially was working for me," Freeland said. "Everything really plays off that for me, mix that slider in there, we got a lot of ground-ball outs and quick innings."

Added Giants manager Bruce Bochy: "He had good sinking action in his fastball. [We were] beating it in the ground, and he commanded the ball well."

Credit his work between starts with a sharpened focus on hammering the bottom of the strike zone and letting his stuff work for him.

"You continue to learn, that's what it mostly is," Freeland said of the growth he's gone through in four big league starts. "You learn on the road, you learn at home, and being comfortable in both situations is what you need to do. Just continuing to do my work in between starts, whether bullpens, dry work, looking at videos, whatever it is. You want to pinpoint what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong, and fix it or keep doing it."

Freeland is now 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA, with three of his first four starts coming at home and six of his eight runs allowed coming in his last Coors Field start against San Diego.

"He made some minor adjustments mechanically, and his best stuff is down in the strike zone, with movement," manager Bud Black said of his improvement. "When you're throwing the ball in the low 90s with action, down, you're going to get grounders. Moving forward, that should be a big part of Kyle's game, the ground ball. Staying down at the knees with action."

Among Freeland's key adjustments was his heightened efficiency, throwing 93 pitches to get through seven innings after throwing 87 pitches in four frames in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

"First-pitch strikes were a huge thing today. You automatically get ahead, so they're immediately on their heels," Freeland said. "You want to get ahead and stay ahead, especially with the lineup that the Giants have. They have a lot of guys on the team that can hit fastballs, so getting that first-pitch strike down in the zone, either having them swing at it and get a ground ball or having them take it for a strike is big."

The Rockies staked him to an early lead, but it was only 3-0 when he faced his biggest threat in the sixth. After a replay review overturned an inning-ending groundout, Buster Posey singled to center to put men on first and second with Brandon Crawford poised to break through. Freeland spun a full-count slider that broke away from a swinging Crawford to kill the rally and preserve the shutout.

"That was a good pitch," Freeland said. "It was strike to ball, started on the outer half of the plate, knew he was looking out there, and he ended up swinging and missing."

Increasingly through his short career, his opponents' swings and misses reflect the sharp learning curve Freeland is quickly mastering.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.

Colorado Rockies, Kyle Freeland