DENVER (AP)Kyle Freeland pitched five scoreless innings before leaving with an apparent leg injury suffered while running the bases, Elias Diaz homered and the Colorado Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 on Monday.
Yonathan Daza had an RBI triple and an over-the-shoulder catch of Erik Gonzalez’s deep flyball to the center field warning track in a game dubbed ”Opening Day 2.0” after the lifting of all pandemic-induced attendance restrictions at 50,000-seat Coors Field.
The Pirates had six hits, all singles. Colorado relievers Tyler Kinley, Jhoulys Chacin and Carlos Estevez worked an inning each before Daniel Bard handled the ninth for his 11th save in 16 chances.
”To a man, they did a nice job,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. ”We talked about that a lot over the course of the year, to really finish out a game at times you’re going to need four relievers. You’d like for it to be three or at times maybe even two, but today it was four. It’s a good formula as long as the guys in the bullpen do their job and today they did.”
Freeland (1-2) allowed three hits and struck out seven in his seventh start of the season. He missed the first two months with a shoulder strain suffered in spring training.
”Similar to my last start, the fastball, slider, curveball combos were working great,” Freeland said. ”The fastball command on both sides of the plate was really good and Diaz did a great job back there calling the game.”
Freeland reached on pitcher Tyler Anderson’s fielding error in the bottom of the fifth and apparently injured his leg sliding into third base on Daza’s double.
The injury was believed to be a leg cramp, and Black said he was optimistic that Freeland will be able to make his next start as scheduled, provided there’s no regression.
Anderson (3-8) went five innings and allowed two runs on five hits – including Diaz’s third homer of the season, a solo shot in the fifth – against his former team.
Anderson, who has lost his last five decisions, dealt with some tough luck at Coors Field.
”You saw the expansiveness of this outfield,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. ”There was a ball there that split the gap and got in there for a triple and then he gave up the homer to Diaz. But other than that, I thought he was pretty effective. He had to grind through the fifth, and empty the tank out to get (Charlie) Blackmon in a big situation and give us a chance to win.”
BACK TO NORMAL
The ”re-opening” pageantry included a flyover by four Air Force fighter jets, pregame introductions for both teams and the return of tossing of bags of peanuts into the crowd from an upper-deck radio booth during the seventh-inning stretch. It was the first game without restricted attendance at Coors Field since Sept. 29, 2019, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Rockies will have hometown entrant in the Home Run Derby. Trevor Story confirmed his participation in the July 12 competition being staged at hitter-friendly Coors Field, also the site of the All-Star Game the next day. Story joins Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, Trey Mancini of the Baltimore Orioles and Pete Alonso of the New York Mets as competitors in the derby. Alonso won the most recent Home Run Derby in 2019.
Pirates: 1B Colin Moran left the game as a precaution in the bottom of the first inning after being hit on the left wrist by a pitch in in the top of the inning. Ben Gamel replaced Moran in the lineup and Phillip Evans moved from left field to first base.
Rockies: RHP Robert Stephenson was placed on the 10-day injured list because of upper back tightness. LHP Ben Bowden was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque.
Pirates: RHP Chase De Jong (0-2, 4.94) is scheduled for his sixth start of the season. He is coming off consecutive losses after getting no-decisions in his first three starts.
Rockies: RHP German Marquez (6-6, 3.99 ERA) is slated to make his 17th start of the season and 11th at home, where he has gone 5-1 with a 3.56 ERA.
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