Freeland's promising outing upended in fifth inning

Lefty takes perfect-game bid into fifth, but can't keep Dodgers at bay

July 5th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- For a spell on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, Kyle Freeland looked untouchable. Through the first four-plus innings, Dodgers hitters couldn’t do anything against him, as he retired the first 13 he faced.

But things fell apart quickly for the left-hander in the fifth inning, when the Dodgers tagged him for four runs in a 5-3 Rockies loss.

Coming off a quality start against L.A. at Coors Field on Tuesday, Freeland got off on the right foot by setting a personal best for consecutive batters retired to open the game, topping his previous high of 11, according to MLB Stats and Research.

“He threw the ball great,” said manager Bud Black of Freeland’s first four innings. “I thought the mix of pitches was outstanding. All four pitches were working. Good change at the bottom of the zone, good fastballs in, fastballs down, good sliders, a couple of curveballs. I mean, just the mix, I thought, was terrific. And, you know, they didn't have good swings. I mean, he kept them off balance.”

Staked to a 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the fifth, Freeland got Dodgers catcher Will Smith to ground out before allowing a single to Justin Turner to bring his perfect-game bid to a close.

Freeland said he was aware he had “something special” going to that point, albeit with a long way to go.

“After Justin Turner got the base hit, I just had to move on,” said Freeland. “That was it. The no-hitter was no longer intact, the perfect game was no longer intact, so I had to look to the next hitter.”

That next hitter, Chris Taylor, worked a walk. But the big blow came in the following at-bat, when Trayce Thompson knocked a 3-2 hanging slider over the left-field wall for a three-run home run.

“It was a poorly executed slider, backed up, top of the zone,” said Freeland. “And a guy with his kind of strength -- honestly, anyone’s strength with that location of the pitch -- is going to have a chance to hit it hard.”

Thompson’s homer prompted a mound visit from pitching coach Darryl Scott, after which Freeland gave up a ground-rule double to Cody Bellinger. Though Freeland got Hanser Alberto to fly out for the second out of the frame, Mookie Betts singled home Bellinger to add a fourth earned run to Freeland’s ledger.

Freeland ran into trouble again with two outs in the sixth, allowing back-to-back singles to Turner and Gavin Lux before giving way to Jhoulys Chacín. Chacín left the inherited runners stranded to protect Freeland’s final line a bit, but it was his first time not completing six innings in a month, having gone six or seven in each of his last five outings.

In all, Freeland allowed six hits and a walk while striking out five on 97 pitches in 5 2/3 innings. In three starts against Los Angeles this season, Freeland has allowed 12 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings, good for a 7.04 ERA; against all other clubs, he has a 3.91 ERA.

Still, for a while on Monday, it seemed like Freeland might have figured out the answer to one of MLB’s more dominant offenses -- until things got away from him.

“I mean, any lineup, you can't get comfortable, regardless of if it's Dodgers, Yankees, Orioles; it doesn't matter,” said Freeland. “Stuff like that can happen, drop of the hat. You can give up four runs right after being perfect through four.”