Kyle Freeland was uncharacteristically wild but still kept his ridiculous ground ball rate and showed remarkable poise working through a game that remained close until the Rockies offense broke out into song in the final act. By the time it was all over, the Rockies got contributions from just about everyone on the roster in a 7-3 win.
Colorado got the first two runners on base to lead off the first two innings, capitalizing the second time around. After a single from Ian Desmond and a walk from Gerardo Parra, Pat Valaika sacrificed himself with a bunt to move the runner up which paid off on a Tony Wolters ground out to first that scored the first run of the game.
Charlie Blackmon delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 2-0, Rockies, on a pitch just off his fists.
Minnesota wasn’t down for long. Freeland walked (see?) Jorge Polanco who then moved up on an iffy balk call. Jason Castro hit a cue shot off the end of the bat but it just hopped over the third-base bag for a double that scored Polanco. Castro came in on a more traditional, two-out double from Brian Dozier to tie the game.
In the top of the fourth, Gerardo Parra hit his second home run of the season, a high shot over the right field fence to put the Rockies up 3-2, but again the lead was short-lived. Byron Buxton, who has struggled with a .182 batting average this season, hit his second home run of the year to tie it again.
Carlos Gonzalez put together one of his better-looking at-bats of the season, sticking with a tough breaking ball and lining it down the right-field line for a double to begin the sixth inning. He came around on Desmond’s second opposite-field single of the game to make it 4-3, Colorado. After a pair of fielder’s choices left Valaika at first with two out, Tony Wolters — in his first game back from a 10-DL stint with a concussion — delivered a clutch double. Valaika scored with some heads-up base running.
Then Blackmon came through with his third, and by far biggest, hit of the game, smashing a two-run home run over the right-center field fence. It was his ninth homer of the season, moving him into a tie for team lead with Nolan Arenado. Blackmon also improved his batting average to .321 with his three-hit game and moved into the Top 10 in RBI in MLB despite being a lead-off hitter. He is now tied for third in MLB (just ahead of Arenado) with Mike Trout at 24 extra-base hits.
Freeland stayed on through the bottom of the sixth which actually ended up being one of his cleanest and quickest innings.
His final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K. He threw 59 or his 91 pitches for strikes and induced eight groundouts to just three outs in the air.
Jake McGee gave up a tough-luck double to Castro on a ball that Blackmon slightly misread but bounced back, striking out Buxton and Chris Gimenez. But in an odd sequence of events, Gimenez reached because the strikeout came on a ball in the dirt but also a check swing. While the Rockies were waiting for the appeal to see if he went (he did) Gimenez ran to first with no throw. Heads up play from him.
This put two runners on and set up a save situation which meant it was Greg Holland time. Holland got Dozier to pop out and after just four pitches, recorded his 17th consecutive save on the season. He has five more saves than the next most in MLB.
Every member of the lineup got involved on offense except for Mark Reynolds whose bat carried the team through the first month. Freeland did his job and kept the team in the game and the bullpen was dominant. It was a true full-team effort. Everyone was awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Especially when that team is in first place in the division.
Colorado moved back to 10 games over .500 at 25-15 and tied the Washington Nationals with the most wins in the National League. The Rockies are now 12-5 on the road. This is real life.