As Kyle Freeland goes, so go the 2020 Rockies.
OK, that’s an exaggeration, but the left-handed starter’s ability to rebound from his disastrous 2019 season is vital to Colorado’s chances to contend.
Based on his performance on Sunday, Freeland is in fine shape. Unveiling his new delivery, he pitched six solid innings in the Rockies’ 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. In a truncated 60-game season in which every series is vital, the Rockies took two of three games from Texas.
Freeland’s support staff was led the all-star shortstop Trevor Story, who hit two home runs, Colorado’s first two dingers of the season. Story launched a two-run, opposite-field shot to right in Colorado’s three-run fourth to tie the game 2-2. He lined it off Rangers lefty Joe Palumbo, who had replaced injured starter Corey Kluber, who departed the game after one inning because of right shoulder tightness.
Story’s 424-foot blast off Nick Goody to open the sixth touched down in the second deck beyond left field, giving the Rockies a 4-2 lead. Sunday marked the 15th multi-homer game of Story’s career.
Daniel Murphy’s leadoff double in the ninth, followed by Tony Wolter’s RBI single to score pinch-runner Chris Owings accounted for the final run.
Colorado’s bullpen delivered three, uneventful innings. Yency Almonte struck out three and allowed one hit across the seventh and eighth. Closer Wade Davis, appearing in his second straight game, set the Rangers down in order in the ninth.
Freeland followed his blueprint to near perfection, moving the ball around the zone and mixing his pitches effectively. He retired the final eight batters he faced and finished his afternoon allowing two runs on five hits, five strikeouts and three walks.
Freeland left a 91 mph meatball up over the plate in the second and Joey Gallo smashed it for a 437-foot leadoff home run to right. But that was Freeland’s only big mistake.
The third inning was a tester. Last season, Freeland might have let things get away from him, but not Sunday. A bloop double by Rob Refnsyder, a bunt single by Elvis Andrus that caught first baseman Daniel Murphy in no man’s land and an RBI single by Nick Solak gave Texas a 2-0 lead. But Freeland regrouped, inducing a double-play grounder out of Danny Santana and an infield popup by Rougned Odor to limit the damage.
The Rockies are off on Monday before beginning a two-game series at Oakland on Tuesday night.