Rockies spoil Kyle Freeland’s best outing of the season, fall 2-1 in Seattle – The Denver Post

Kyle Freeland did his job. It was the rest of the Rockies who were responsible for yet another road loss.

The Rockies fell 2-1 to the Mariners Tuesday night, dropping their record to 30-44 on the season and just 5-28 away from Coors Field. Colorado’s feeble offense managed just four hits as the Rockies dropped their third straight game.

They can snap their losing streak on Wednesday, when they’ll close the two-game set vs. Seattle.

“(Kyle) did everything he could to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win,” said Rockies manager Bud Black. “… He pitched aggressive, I thought that he attacked.”

After Rockies reliever Lucas Gilbreath kept the Mariners off the board in the seventh, Seattle LF Shed Long Jr. cranked a 418-foot solo shot to center in the eighth. The homer, off Tyler Kinley, broke the 1-1 tie. Kinley earned the loss, while Seattle’s reliever Paul Sewald drew the win in relief.

The Rockies went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth. Among the few offensive bright spots, Raimel Tapia did manage to extend his hitting streak to 18. But other than that, most of the offense didn’t travel.

In his best start of the season, by far, Freeland gave the Rockies six sound innings. He left with seven strikeouts, and only one earned run, five hits and a walk allowed. The seven strikeouts equaled the total number from his prior four starts combined. He was unbothered by the multiple sticky substance checks as MLB began its crackdown on pitchers earlier this week.

“It was definitely a step in the right direction for me,” Freeland said. “The only thing that would’ve made tonight better was if we would’ve gotten a win.”

And he was nearly matched by his Seattle counterpart.

Through six innings, Chris Flexen was dealing. He’d struck out six, including DH Trevor Story twice, and hadn’t faced any real threat. But with two outs in the seventh, Rockies 1B C.J. Cron crushed a 402-foot opposite field homer to right, tying it at 1-1. A triple from Brendan Rodgers, later left stranded, forced a Mariners pitching change.

Black conceded he felt Freeland had pressed in his prior five starts.

“I think so,” Black said prior to Tuesday’s game. “I think that’s natural. You come back (from injury), you want to make an immediate contribution. I think the first two starts, they were on the road, New York/Pittsburgh. I sensed the effort level was a little bit beyond what you need to throw a quality game. I think he was trying a little bit too hard.

“After those two starts, which were a little bumpy, I think he’s trying to make up for it with great starts, and that hasn’t happened,” Black went on. “So, again, he just needs to pitch a solid ballgame to do his part as a starting pitcher.”

Through five innings, Freeland was more than solid. He kept his pitches low, blew a handful of sliders past Seattle’s hitters and received several clutch defensive plays behind him.

“I do think there’s some measure of him trying too hard, whether it’s trying to get the first win or trying to pitch a really good ballgame,” Black added. “I think he has added a little bit of that pressure to himself.”

It wasn’t until the fifth inning when Freeland first ran into trouble. The Mariners loaded the bases on three consecutive singles, including one off the bat of Jake Fraley that dropped in ahead of Tapia in left.

After a strikeout, the Mariners plated the first run of the game on an infield single from J.P. Crawford. But Seattle’s rally ended after Dylan Moore overran second and got tagged out to end the inning.

The Rockies needed all the timely defensive plays they could muster while Flexen kept their bats quiet. Rodgers ripped a single to left in the top of the fifth for Colorado’s first knock of the night. An inning later, Tapia smoked a liner to center.

And that was it. Through six innings, that was the extent of Colorado’s offense.

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