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Arenado's walk-off HR brings 'pure happiness'

Ninth-inning heroics pick up starter Freeland: 'A big momentum boost'
August 14, 2019

DENVER -- Coors Field tasted “LoDo Magic” Wednesday afternoon, as Nolan Arenado walked off D-backs closer Archie Bradley with a two-run homer lined just inside the left-field foul pole to keep the D-backs from a series sweep as the Rockies won 7-6. Trevor Story was hit by a pitch to

DENVER -- Coors Field tasted “LoDo Magic” Wednesday afternoon, as Nolan Arenado walked off D-backs closer Archie Bradley with a two-run homer lined just inside the left-field foul pole to keep the D-backs from a series sweep as the Rockies won 7-6. Trevor Story was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and set the stage for Arenado’s eighth career walk-off RBI, his third walk-off homer and the Rockies’ sixth walk-off win of the season.

“Happiness -- pure happiness,” starting pitcher Kyle Freeland said of the feeling in the ninth when Arenado picked up the lefty and his teammates. “It’s a big momentum boost for us. Nolan stepping up in a big spot. Story wearing one hard off the ribs. That’s huge, so hopefully we carry that on.”

Ryan McMahon helped put the Rockies in position to turn the tables with a pinch-hit three-run homer to left in the bottom of the sixth off Yohihisa Hirano, tying the game at 5 before Arizona took a lead in the top of the ninth.

Box score

In McMahon’s mind, however, it was all about the ninth, with Nolan hitting his first walk-off homer since Father’s Day in 2017, when he completed a cycle with a walk-off homer.

“Our go-to guy got it for us,” McMahon said. “It’s big having Nolan come through right there. It’s not a comfortable at bat, right-on-right right there, with that guy throwing cheese like that.”

To get the momentum rolling, Arenado first had to overcome inertia. He’d been to the plate with the Rockies having loaded the bases in the sixth after McMahon’s pinch-hit home run, only to end the inning with a pop-up to short.

“It’s kind of frustrating not being able to do it [there],” Arenado said of the sixth. “I was just trying to stay focused, stay mentally locked in, might get another at-bat, and I did.”

Arenado’s walk-off RBIs are topped in Rockies’ team history only by Dante Bichette and Todd Helton, who each had nine.

“I was worried about it fading foul, so I was trying to keep it fair by watching it,” Arenado said of his success off Bradley. “He’s a good pitcher. It’s going to be a battle up there with him, I think everyone would admit that. He’s got good stuff. It’s not easy.”

Freeland marked continued progress following a four-month stretch between wins. After beating the Marlins on Opening Day and the Phillies on April 18, he didn't notch his third win until Aug. 4. He finished fourth in the 2018 National League Cy Young Award voting, thanks to a 17-7 record and a 2.85 ERA. Freeland entered Wednesday’s game with a 3-10 record and a 7.06 ERA, and he allowed five runs in six innings against the D-backs. He retired eight in a row before Arizona scored three in the sixth, thanks to a leadoff double by Ketel Marte and a pair of homers from Eduardo Escobar and Wilmer Flores.

“The [Ketel] Marte double [to lead off the inning], we tried front-hipping a sinker and it ended up being up, middle of the plate,” Freeland said. “With the season that he’s been having and the hitter that he is, he was able to recognize it and get barrel to it. The Escobar home run, I don’t know how he hit it out. It was a perfectly executed backdoor slider that he hit to the deepest part of the ballpark. You just have to tip your hat to that one. The Flores home run was a quality slider down in the zone but middle, something that he could get his barrel to.”

Freeland may not be back in his best form yet, but he’s having his best month of 2019. His ERA over three August starts is 5.29, a few ticks better than his 5.74 April and a world away from his 10.17 May and 8.66 July. Freeland spent June at Triple-A Albuquerque, compiling an 0-4 record with an 8.80 ERA in a six-start stretch that extended into the first week of July.

“He’s a competitor and he’s going to compete,” Arenado said of Freeland. “He battled his butt off, and that’s what we expect from him. If he continues to do that, good things are going to happen.”