Best of MLB: Kyle Freeland loses no-hit bid in 9th inning as Rockies shut out White Sox

Best of MLB: Kyle Freeland loses no-hit bid in 9th inning as Rockies shut out White Sox

DENVER -- Hometown rookie Kyle Freeland came within two outs of the first no-hitter by a Rockies pitcher at Coors Field before surrendering a sharp single to Melky Cabrera as Colorado beat the Chicago White Sox 10-0 on Sunday.

Freeland, who's from Denver and grew up going to games at the hitter-friendly park, struck out the first batter of the ninth inning and then allowed Cabrera's hit to left field on a 2-2 count.

The 24-year-old Freeland (9-7) threw 126 pitches. He was pulled immediately after the hit and left to a standing ovation.

The lefty struck out a career-high nine, walked three and hit a batter.

Freeland was trying to throw the second no-hitter in Coors Field history. Hideo Nomo accomplished the feat in 1996 when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The only no-hitter in Rockies history was thrown by Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010 at Atlanta.

Edinson Volquez of the Miami Marlins pitched the lone no-hitter in the majors this season, doing it last month against Arizona (see full recap).

Stanton homers twice as Marlins complete sweep of Giants 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giancarlo Stanton homered twice, the second coming after A.J. Ellis' tiebreaking two-run home run in the 11th inning, and the Miami Marlins held on to beat the San Francisco Giants 10-8 on Sunday to complete a sweep.

Miami blew a 7-4 lead when the Giants scored three runs off Kyle Barraclough in the eighth before Ellis and Stanton lifted the Marlins in extra innings.

J.T. Realmuto reached on shortstop Brandon Crawford's throwing error leading off the 11th. After JT Riddle flew out, Ellis hit a tiebreaking two-run home run. It was Ellis' first career pinch hit home run.

Stanton, who homered in the fifth off starter Johnny Cueto, then tacked on No. 26 against George Kontos (0-3).

The Marlins head into the All-Star break having won five of six.

Nick Wittgren (2-1) retired six batters for the win and A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth for his 17th save (see full recap).

Astros batter Blue Jays 19-1 for 60th win 
TORONTO -- Carlos Correa homered twice and drove in a career-high five runs as the Houston Astros romped into the All-Star break, battering the Toronto Blue Jays 19-1 Sunday.

The runaway leaders in the AL West became just the fifth team in the last 40 years to reach 60 wins before the All-Star Game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They joined the 1998 Yankees, 2001 Mariners, 2003 Braves and this year's Los Angeles Dodgers, who got there Saturday.

At 60-29, Houston heads into the break with a whopping lead in a division where no one else is over .500.

A day after his career-high 15-game hitting streak ended, Correa had four hits. The All-Star shortstop hit the 20-home run mark with his second of the day for his fifth career multihomer game and second this season.

Fellow All-Star Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel and Evan Gattis also homered for Houston. Altuve had three hits for the fifth consecutive game -- he became the ninth major leaguer to do so in more than a century, and the first since George Brett's record-tying six-game streak for Kansas City in 1976 (see full recap).

Charlie Manuel keeps his promise to Roy Halladay's son

Jim Salisbury/NBCSP

Charlie Manuel keeps his promise to Roy Halladay's son

DUNEDIN, Fla. – It’s not hard to find Charlie Manuel in spring training. In late mornings, he’s perched behind the batting cage watching Phillies hitters take their swings. During the game, he’s on the top step of the dugout, taking it all in and offering advice where needed.

Manuel didn’t stay for the game Saturday. He watched batting practice, showered and drove out of the parking lot 30 minutes before the first pitch.

Manuel, you see, had a promise to keep.

Back in November, Manuel was one of nine people to speak at Roy Halladay’s memorial service at Spectrum Field, the Phillies’ spring training home. Manuel stood at a podium near the very mound that Halladay trained on and spoke from the heart about what an honor it was to manage such a great talent and competitor. Manuel had jotted his words down on a paper, but he didn’t stick completely to his script that day. At one point, he looked down at Halladay’s two grieving sons, Braden and Ryan, and told them he’d be keeping tabs on their progress as young ballplayers. Manuel promised to attend their games. And that’s just what he did Saturday afternoon.

Braden Halladay, a lanky 17-year-old right-hander who bears a striking resemblance to his dad, on and off the mound, is a member of the Canadian Junior Team’s spring training roster. He was born in Toronto when his dad played for the Blue Jays, hence his eligibility to pitch for Canada.

On Saturday, Braden pitched a scoreless eighth inning against a Jays’ split-squad team on the very Dunedin Stadium mound where his dad began his career.

“I’m so glad I came over,” Manuel said after Braden’s perfect inning of work. “He did good. I’m glad he got ‘em out.”

This wasn’t the first time Manuel had seen Braden pitch. Braden pitches for Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, where he is a junior. Manuel watched him pitch five shutout innings earlier in the week. And on Wednesday night, Manuel attended young brother Ryan’s practice in Clearwater.

Manuel has a warm spot for the boys for a lot of reasons. Obviously, there was the respect he had for their dad. “When I think of Roy, I think of the perfect game and playoff no-hitter first,” Manuel said. “Right after that, I think of his work ethic. It was the best I’ve ever seen.” 

But Manuel’s affection for the boys goes beyond the respect he had for their dad. Manuel was 18, the oldest son in a family of 11 children, when he lost his dad.

“I feel for those boys,” Manuel said. “I know what they’re going through and it isn’t easy. Not easy at all.”

It takes a lot of love to get through a tragedy like the one the Halladay family has gone through. The boys get it from their mom, Brandy, who is at all of their games. And they get it from people like Charlie Manuel.

Saturday’s first pitch at Dunedin Stadium, just a few miles from the Phillies’ ballpark, was scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Manuel wanted to hustle over so he could wish Braden luck before the game. Manuel made his way down to the bullpen area and spotted one of his former Phillies players, Pete Orr, who is a coach with the Canadian team. Orr called over to Braden. A huge smile crossed the kid’s face when he saw Manuel. He sprinted over and gave Manuel a hug. Orr, who grew up near Toronto, slapped Braden on the back of his Team Canada jersey and said, “He looks good in red and white.”

He sure did.

Braden chatted with Manuel for a minute or two, and Manuel wished him luck. A reporter from Philadelphia asked Braden what it felt like to have Manuel keep tabs on his baseball career.

“It’s pretty sweet,” Braden said with a big smile. “It means a lot to me.”

The reporter wished him luck and told him that all of Philadelphia was rooting for him.

“I appreciate that,” the young pitcher said before trotting off to join his teammates.

Braden Halladay is 6-3 and 150 pounds. He entered the game in the bottom of the eighth inning with his team down, 11-3, at first to a smattering of applause. That grew into a big, beautiful round of applause after the PA man announced his name and everyone in the crowd realized the magnitude of the moment. Braden knelt behind the mound and wrote his dad’s initials in the dirt before delivering his first pitch. His pitching delivery is smooth and fundamentally pure.

“You can tell Roy worked with him,” Manuel said.

Braden mixed his pitches nicely in getting two pop-ups and a ground ball. He hit 83 mph on the stadium radar gun. A few months ago, Braden announced that he had committed to Penn State. Manuel sees a lot of promise in the kid.

“When he’s 21, he’ll pitch at 205 pounds,” Manuel said. “He’ll get stronger. You watch, he’s got a chance to be real good. He has a good, quick arm, command of the ball and mechanics.”

Where the game will eventually take Braden Halladay is a story for another day. Back in November, he sat in the middle of a baseball field and listened to people eulogize his dad. It was an excruciatingly difficult experience and the look on his face that day said as much.

So on Saturday, it was just great to see Braden Halladay back on a baseball field with a smile on his face. And it was great to see Charlie Manuel there, taking it all in, just as he had promised.

Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

AP Images

Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Spectrum Field was sold out, filled with fans clad in green and smeared with sunblock for a game against the Atlanta Braves on a festive St. Paddy’s Day.
But the main event Saturday took place several hundred yards away at the minor-league complex, two hours before the big-league game even began.
Five days after signing a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies, Jake Arrieta climbed atop a mound and threw a 31-pitch (two-inning) simulated game. Scott Kingery, Jorge Alfaro, Logan Moore and Andrew Pullin were the hitters. Andrew Knapp was the catcher. Players, coaches, minor-league instructors and manager Gabe Kapler all peeked in. Dozens of fans hugged the chain-link fence to get a look at the newest Phillie. They applauded when Arrieta took the mound and again when he finished.
“It was great,” the 32-year-old pitcher said moments after the workout ended. “There’s a lot of people out here. A lot of people are excited for the Phillies in 2018. We’ve got a lot of good things going on here. A lot of guys are healthy and competing, there’s a lot of youth. It’s a really fun time to be in this organization.”
Arrieta said he felt “really good physically,” not a surprise because he came into camp in terrific shape and had gotten to over 60 pitches in bullpen sessions back home in Austin, Texas. He threw all his pitches, including a couple of knee-buckling curveballs. He broke two of Alfaro’s bats, one with a sinker, one with a cutter.
“My goal was to throw everything in the arsenal for strikes and throw my off-speed pitches in and out of the zone where I could get some chases,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta did allow some contact, mostly ground balls.
Arrieta won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Cubs. He won 22 games and had a 1.77 ERA that season.
A deceptive delivery is one of Arrieta’s strengths. He throws across his body and that crossfire action makes it difficult for a hitter to pick up the ball.
“It’s extremely deceptive,” Kingery said. “Every pitch is extremely deceptive. That’s what hit me. His curveball looks like it’s coming at your head then it drops.”
Arrieta is still hoping to be ready for the first week of the regular season, but the Phillies have not formulated a firm game plan. One thing is certain: They won’t rush him. They want him for the long haul. They could hold him back 10 days or so, allowing him to build more arm strength, and he’d still make 30 starts.
Arrieta expects to throw a bullpen session in the next day or two and try to get up around 60 pitches in his next outing. That could be in a minor-league game or in another simulated game.
“As long as we continue to get my pitch count up, I think I’ll be fine going into the season,” he said.