Wheels come off for Rox after Freeland's exit

August 21st, 2019

PHOENIX -- A challenging season for Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland took another tough turn Tuesday night.

Freeland’s solid outing ended abruptly when he exited with a left groin strain in the sixth inning of Colorado’s 8-7 loss to Arizona at Chase Field. After the left-hander’s 84th pitch of the night, he experienced discomfort, limping after he received the ball back from catcher Tony Wolters. Freeland quickly departed the field with trainer Keith Dugger and manager Bud Black.

“It was on that pitch, full extension, I just felt inside my groin grab pretty hard and then release,” Freeland said. “The steps I took afterward, I continued to feel it grab.”

Black confirmed that Freeland will likely be heading to the injured list.

“In the short-term, he’s going to miss some time. How much? We don’t know. We’ll see how it sets up the next few days,” Black said. “He threw the ball great. I caught up with Kyle after the game in the training room and I told him as far as his stuff, his delivery, making pitches to both sides of the plate, slider, fastball command, everything looked in order.”

Freeland’s departure came with one out and a runner on second base. At that point, he had only allowed a pair of earned runs. However, he finished with five runs allowed (three earned) because of what transpired after his exit.

Right-hander Bryan Shaw took over on the mound with the game tied, then quickly gave up a go-ahead two-run pinch-hit single to Jake Lamb. The knock started a five-run inning for the D-backs that also featured a two-run triple by Eduardo Escobar, staking Arizona to an 8-3 lead.

“They [took] the lead, but the backbreaker was the Escobar ball in the corner that scored two and stretched their lead,” Black said.

It marked the second straight night that a decent showing from a Rockies starter went to waste due to the bullpen’s struggles. On Monday, Chi Chi Gonzalez allowed two runs in six-plus innings, but Wade Davis gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning in relief in a 5-3 loss.

Freeland has not repeated the success of his breakout 2018 campaign, when he won 17 games, posted a 2.85 ERA and finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting. He is 3-11 with a 6.98 ERA through 20 starts after Tuesday’s loss.

Although Freeland has had some better showings in the second half -- this was the fourth time in his last six starts that he allowed three or fewer earned runs -- the groin injury will be the next obstacle for the southpaw.

Freeland went on the IL with a left middle finger blister in late April, but he only missed one start. In 2017, he also missed about 10 days with a left groin strain similar to the one he sustained Tuesday.

“It felt the same, as far as I can tell,” Freeland said. “Same thing happened then, it was on a full extension throwing the ball where I felt it grab and then release. But right now, we’ll see how it feels after a few days.”

In a year that has featured more lows than highs, it was disappointing for Freeland that this came at a time in which he was having better results and perhaps building momentum toward a strong finish.

“It sucks, I felt like I was pitching pretty well, keeping the team in the ballgame,” Freeland said. “I want to be out there fighting with my brothers. This is a setback, been struggling all season, been grinding trying to get better and then this kind of sucks. But I’ve got to take it for what it is and move on.”