DENVER (The Sports Exchange) – The first inning not surprisingly proved to be a challenge since Colorado starter Kyle Freeland was making his major league debut Friday in his hometown and in the Rockies’ home opener.
Freeland rose to that momentous occasion as the Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1. He limited the Dodgers to four hits and one run in six innings and never looked back after the first inning.
“After I got out of the first inning with the bases-loaded jam, I was able to set right in a groove,” Freeland said.
The left-handed Freeland, who turns 24 next month, retired the first two batters he faced but ended up throwing 26 pitches in the first and just 12 for strikes before escaping unscathed.
Freeland loaded the bases with two walks after Justin Turner’s single but got Yasmani Grandal to hit into a force play.
“To say he had adrenaline today was an understatement,” said Rockies catcher Dustin Garneau, whose home run in the fifth broke a 1-1 tie and proved to be the winning hit. “But it’s almost a good thing that he had that bases-loaded jam, he had to pitch through that in the beginning to kind of get the adrenaline on hold — flush out his system.”
Freeland (1-0) finished with two walks and six strikeouts while throwing 95 pitches, 55 for strikes. He gave up a run on Enrique Hernandez’s groundout in the fourth, which Scott Van Slyke opened with a double. Freeland retired the final seven batters he faced and got 10 outs on ground balls.
PHOTO GALLERY: Rockies Home Opener
Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu appeared in just one game during the past two seasons — July 7, 2016 — because of shoulder and elbow injuries.
Ryu gave up a run in the first when Nolan Arenado, whose ninth-inning homer Thursday at Milwaukee gave the Rockies a 2-1 victory, lined a double into the left-field corner after back-to-back singles by DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez.
After giving up those three hits in the first, Ryu didn’t allow another until the fifth, when he allowed a first-pitch homer off the left-field foul pole to leadoff hitter Garneau and left with two outs after throwing 77 pitches in his comeback start.
“He threw the ball really well,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “You hold a team like that to two runs, you expect to win.”
The Dodgers fell to 0-2 against left-handed starters and will face three more in the next four games. They were 24-27 against them last year, including the postseason, and a distant last in opponents’ OPS and batting average last year.
“You don’t want to give a guy too much credit, but the kid threw the ball well today,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But yeah, I think there were some at-bats where we were a little bit too aggressive out of the strike zone. And we really didn’t threaten all game.
“But if you look at this game, we didn’t hit the right-handers either. Yeah, it’s one of those things until we change it, it’s going to be the talk.”
Right-handers Carlos Estevez and Scott Oberg followed Freeland to the mound, each throwing a scoreless inning. Because of their volume of early work, the Rockies rested relievers Adam Ottavino, left-hander Mike Dunn and closer Greg Holland.
Manager Bud Black turned to left-hander Jake McGee. He allowed a hit to the only batter he faced in his first appearance of the season Tuesday but struck out the side in the ninth to seal Freeland’s victory.
The Rockies have won four of five games this year, all the victories by two or fewer runs. Their bullpen, which had a major-league worst 5.13 ERA last year, has a 1.56 ERA so far in 2017.
“Pens that are successful have multiple guys that you can count on,” Black said, “because not everybody is available every night.”
NOTES: The Rockies have won consecutive 2-1 games for the second time in franchise history. They also did it April 28-29, 1995, at Houston in the Astrodome. … Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) was placed on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to Thursday. … Los Angeles RHP Josh Fields was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City and struck out the side in the eighth. … Dodgers SS Corey Seager and 1B Adrian Gonzalez were not in the starting lineup but both played. … Rockies LF Stephen Cardullo made his first start after three pinch-hitting appearances. … Colorado LHP Kyle Freeland made his major league debut, marking the first time in franchise history the Rockies have had two starters make their major league debuts in franchise history. RHP Antonio Senzatela started Thursday. … Colorado RHP Miguel Castro, who was designated for assignment on April 2, was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named or cash considerations. … Rockies RHP Chad Qualls (right forearm tightness) is scheduled to throw 20-25 pitches Saturday in a simulated game. If all goes well, he could then begin a minor league rehab assignment.