DENVER (AP) — Kyle Freeland’s left heel throbbed after being hit by a liner.
The pain actually helped him bear down and make some of his best pitches.
“I was thinking more about my heel than my mechanics,” Freeland said.
Trevor Story hit the second grand slam of his career, Freeland scattered three hits over seven crisp innings and the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 8-0 on a cold Tuesday night.
Freeland (1-3) provided plenty of heat as the lefty struck out a season-high eight to earn his first win since July 30. But there was a moment of concern when Freeland was hit by a Chase Headley liner in the fourth. Freeland took a few warmup pitches and remained in the game. After that, his mechanics have rarely looked sharper, Rockies manager Bud Black said.
“It smoothed him out. He didn’t overthrow,” Black explained. “His focus might have been more heightened, because he was in a little bit of discomfort.”
Although the heel smarts, Freeland said it will “be all right.”
Colorado outfielder Noel Cuevas notched his first major league hit — a single down the line that looked like a sure double before he slipped on the first base bag. That’s about the only stumble for the Rockies in a game delayed 46 minutes by rain on a 37-degree evening. In an effort to stay warm, Nolan Arenado resorted to wearing a ski mask in the field.
San Diego lefty Eric Lauer (0-1) had a rough outing in his major league debut. He allowed seven runs, six earned, over three innings.
“Like I said to him on the mound when I took the ball from him, ‘There’s going to be a lot of really good days ahead. You’re going to remember this because you’re going to come back from this one and have a lot of really good days,'” Padres manager Andy Green said. “Definitely not the debut I know he was looking for, but humble beginnings are a good place to start from.”
One consolation: Lauer picked up his first big league hit on a bloop single.
“It kind of hurt my hand a little bit but I’ll take it,” Lauer said.
The 22-year-old Lauer made a mistake in the second with a fastball that Story took deep to left to give the Rockies a 7-0 lead. Story’s other grand slam was April 21, 2017, against San Francisco.
Story is on a roll over his last eight games, hitting .423 with three homers.
“Just trying to put my best swing on it and not try to do too much,” Story said.
Padres: 3B Christian Villanueva (hamstring tightness) was given the night off due to the cold conditions. “It just wasn’t in his best interest or our best interest to push him,” Green said.
The Rockies scored a touchdown’s equivalent in runs over the first two innings. Fitting since linebacker Von Miller, quarterback Case Keenum and a few other Broncos were on hand for the game.
“We threw a shutout for (the Broncos),” Black said.
First baseman Eric Hosmer was placed on family medical leave. The team hopes to have him back in the lineup Friday.
“He had some things he needed to go home and take care of,” Green explained. “Respecting his privacy and his family’s wishes, we’ll just kind of leave it at that right now.”
Rockies right-hander Brooks Pounders had the most memorable name in the minor leagues in 2014. No disputing it, either — he won the “Moniker Madness ” bracket challenge that crowns the best name.
“It’s pretty cool,” Pounders said.
Pounders pitched the ninth in his Rockies debut. His contract was selected from Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Lauer became just the second pitcher from the 2016 draft class to make his major league debut. The other was teammate Joey Lucchesi, who made his first start on March 30, 2017.
In addition, Lauer was the 27th pitcher to make his inaugural big league start at Coors Field, including seventh as an opponent and second for the Padres (Anthony Bass on June 13, 2011).
“It was just nerves,” Lauer said. “I’m just going to work and come back.”
The Padres will throw RHP Tyson Ross (2-1, 2.81 ERA) in the series finale Wednesday. His last time out he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning at Arizona. The Rockies counter with RHP Jon Gray (1-4, 6.75), who’s looking to snap a three-game skid.
By PAT GRAHAM
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