The Arizona Diamondbacks came into this series on a seven-game winning streak that included sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in three before their flight to Denver. They remained hot in this first of three against the Colorado Rockies, getting offensive output in nearly every inning and winning in commanding fashion, 9-5.
It was a tough first inning for Freeland but it could have been much worse. He walked the first two batters of the game, then surrendered a single through the left side of the infield to A.J. Pollock to put the Diamondbacks on the board before the Rockies had recorded an out. Oddly enough, the first out was recorded by Paul Goldschmidt on a deep fly ball to right center field. Lead runner David Peralta made a mistake in not tagging up and taking third base and it cost Arizona when J.D. Martinez grounded to third allowing Nolan Arenado to step on the bag and throw to first to get Freeland out of the inning. Arenado would not have time to go to second for two adding more depth to Peralta’s error in judgment.
The Rockies had a chance to strike back in the bottom of the first after a one-out double from DJ LeMahieu and two-out walks from Mark Reynolds and Ian Desmond loaded the bases for Carlos Gonzalez. But CarGo struck out and though Colorado forced Walker to throw over 30 pitches in the inning, they could not get a run out of the deal.
Brandon Drury led off Arizona’s second frame with a single through the left side and moved to third on a double from Adam Rosales, needing to make sure the ball got down in the outfield. He scored on a mental error by Reynolds that went into the record books as a single for the pitcher Walker. Reynolds fielded a weak grounder cleanly and froze Drury at third, at least at first, but as he retreated to first base it soon became clear that Walker was going to beat him to the bag. And since he was, in fact, retreating, a throw home became far more difficult and Drury scored with ease. Just like the first inning, Freeland induced a ground ball double play to escape any further damage.
The Rockies wasted another opportunity in the third. Charlie Blackmon led off with a single, then LeMahieu was called out on strikes on this slider:
— Justin Dean (@Golf_Lundgren) September 2, 2017
Reynolds followed with a strikeout of his own on a pitch that was a little closer, but he didn’t like it either and let home plate umpire Brian O’Nora know all about it. Desmond grounded out to shortstop to strand another two runners. It was the first out Walker recorded via a method other than the strikeout, getting the first eight hitters in that fashion.
Freeland threw his first clean inning in the fourth and was removed for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of that frame.
His final line: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K.
The Rockies stranded two more baserunners in that fourth. Gonzalez hit a leadoff double off the top of the wall in left field, just inches shy of a home run. Then after Jonathan Lucroy ground out to third, CarGo was able to move up to third on a deep fly out from Trevor Story that also looked for a moment like it could leave the park. Mike Tauchman then pinch-hit for Freeland and drew a walk but Blackmon lined out to left, making the Rockies 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Carlos Estevez came on for Colorado and pitched a quality fifth inning, working around a single by Chris Iannetta. But he got into trouble in the sixth, surrendering a leadoff double to JD Martinez who moved to third on a ground ball to second from Drury. After intentionally walking Jake Lamb, Estevez gave up a single to right by pinch-hitter Rey Fuentes to make it 4-0, Diamondbacks.
Colorado finally got in on the scoring in the sixth with a single to start from Desmond and Gonzalez’ second straight double, which score him. CarGo moved up on a ground ball to second from Lucroy and scored on a sac fly to center from Story. The two productive outs pulled the Rockies to within two.
Things spun away from Adam Ottavino in the seventh after a tough call on what looked to be strike three to Pollock for the second out:
No reason pic.twitter.com/sNrztW7EfS
— Kevin (@1kevinkerby) September 2, 2017
Pollock then stole second, getting a huge jump against Otto, and was able to move to third when the throw skipped passed LeMahieu at the bag. Colorado wisely decided to intentionally walk Goldschmidt but Ottavino made another mental (and actual) error, trying for a pickoff and spiking the ball in the dirt. Reynolds tried a desperation throw to home plate but Pollock had long since scored meaning all his attempt accomplished was allowing Goldschmidt to move to second. Ottavino then walked Martinez and struck out Drury before needing to give way to Mike Dunn who gave up a line drive single to Lamb and a three-run home run to former Rockie Daniel Descalso to suddenly put the game far out of reach at 9-2 and send most of the home crowd for the exits.
The Rockies committed three errors in the seventh, the first time they have recorded three errors in one inning since 2015.
The home team mounted a brief rally in the seventh loading the bases with nobody out for a sac grounder from Gonzalez and getting a two-out, two-run double from Story to make it 9-5, but it was too little too late.
Colorado fell to 72-62 and, with the Milwaukee Brewers winning 1-0 over the Washington Nationals, now hold just a one-and-a-half game lead over the second spot in the National League Wild Card. The Rockies will hand the ball to Jon Gray in the second game of the series. Arizona sends Patrick Corbin to the hill.