After the game, Black did not discuss what he said to Freeland, but whatever he said must have worked: Freeland retired the next eight batters. But the course-correcting conference was only necessary because of the Reds' four early runs, all of which came with two outs and two strikes.
"In my eyes right now, it was a pretty rough outing," Freeland said. "I didn't really have my command from the get-go. They had some bleaters fall in that turned into runs, and then they had some hard-hit balls on mistake pitches."
Tuesday's start continued a troubling trend for Freeland, who has given up at least four runs in his last three starts and four of his last five. His ERA has risen over that span, from 3.34 to 4.09.
Freeland's toughest out on Tuesday was Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton, who lifted a low slider for a two-run single in the second inning and finished the night 2-for-4. It was a pitch Freeland said he liked, and he credited Hamilton for going down to get it.
"He hit two quality pitches that bled in for hits," Freeland said. "It's just irritating at times when that stuff happens, especially when you make your pitch."
Despite the early struggles, Black thought Freeland pitched better than his final line (five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings). Black also acknowledged Hamilton as the Reds' catalyst on Tuesday and called that two-run single "the one that hurt" Freeland the most.
"They chipped away, they got some hits, they got some balls to right-center off him, but he hung in there," Black said. "It wasn't his best line, but he made some pitches that I thought were decent that they got base hits off of. But you know what that is? That's baseball."
Freeland's next attempt at putting these poor starts behind him will likely come against the White Sox, a team in the bottom half of the American League in runs scored and OPS. If everything seems to go wrong again, as it did on Tuesday, Freeland will try to focus on his own efforts.
"I try to stay within myself, and trust my offense," Freeland said. "We only got one [run] tonight, but that's going to happen. I trust our offense; we're loaded."
Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.