The Colorado Rockies became a Major League franchise in 1993. Prior to Sunday's battle with the White Sox, they had played just shy of 2,000 games at Coors Field. Not one Rockies' hurler had ever thrown a no-hitter in their home ballpark. None.
The 24-year-old southpaw was the club's first round selection (eighth overall) in the 2014 draft. A local kid, who pitched at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, always dreamed of making history on the mound at Coors Field. He nearly did just that on Sunday afternoon.
Through the first eight innings, Freeland held the White Sox to just three walks. This was against a White Sox team that murders left-handed pitching, in the top run-scoring environment in all of baseball.
The game was complete with all of the hallmarks of prior no-hitters, including an unbelievable diving catch by Gerardo Parra on Yolmer Sanchez's sinking line drive to begin the eighth inning. Unfortunately, it just wasn't in the cards.
In order to complete the historic accomplishment, he would need to go through the top three hitters in the White Sox' lineup. Freeland fanned Adam Engel on six pitches to begin the ninth inning, putting him just two outs away from the record books.
That's when Melky Cabrera decided to spoil the fun. On the fifth pitch of his at-bat, and the career-high 126th pitch of Freeland's night, Cabrera fought off a single over Nolan Arenado and into left field. He then departed to a lengthy standing ovation from the home faithful.
Freeland wore his emotion on his sleeve, visibly celebrating after the conclusion of the seventh inning and again after Parra's fantastic catch to begin the eighth. Afterwards, he admitted that he had fun on the mound, and said it was the adrenaline that kept him going through the last couple of innings.
Rockies' skipper Bud Black certainly enjoyed the fire that he saw from his young left-hander, admitting after the game "Kyle pitches with a lot of emotion, you don't see it sometimes, but this guy's got a fire within him, which is great, which we love."
While he didn't secure the historic no-hitter, Freeland pitched a whale of a ballgame and gave the Rockies a much-needed victory as they head into the All-Star break. The victory gives them their first series win in almost four weeks.
The Rockies head into the break with a surprising 52-39 record. That win total is tied for the third highest in the National League, but it's also the third highest in the National League West where they sit 9 1/2 games back of the Dodgers.
If the season ended today, the Rockies would make the postseason as the second Wild Card. They hold a considerable 7 1/2 game lead over both the Cubs and Cardinals for that honor.
All-World left-hander Clayton Kershaw has been among the best pitchers in baseball again this season, but he accomplished something on Sunday that he hadn't done all season.
Finish a ballgame.
Kershaw was in dominant form against the Royals in this one, allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out 13 batters. He didn't walk a batter. The only blemish on his afternoon was a two-run homer by Eric Hosmer.
It was the 25th complete game of his illustrious career, but just the first since May 23 of last season against the Reds.
This was also the third straight start, and seventh time this season, that Kershaw has fanned 10 or more batters in a game.
The 29-year-old hurler has historically gotten better as the weather warms up and 2017 looks to be no exception. He has allowed just two runs over 29 innings (0.62 ERA) in his last four starts while posting a 44/5 K/BB ratio.
Don't expect this recent run to stop anytime soon either. For his career, Kershaw owns an absurd 1.74 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in the month of July.
At the All-Star break, Kershaw sits at a spectacular 14-2 with a 2.18 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 159/22 K/BB ratio across 132 1/3 innings in his 19 starts.
He has some stiff competition lining up in the race for the National League Cy Young Award, namely Max Scherzer and perhaps teammate Alex Wood, but the odds-on favorite has to be Kershaw at this stage.
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Home Run Derby Preview
In a year where baseballs are flying out of the park at an unbelievable record pace, the Home Run Derby actually seems to have some appeal and intrigue for the first time in ages.
The change of format during the 2015 event, changing to a time clock for each hitter, rather than a set number of outs, has rejuvenated the event.
Rather than having a whole host of players declining invitations to participate, this year's field seems to be the guys that everyone wants to see hit the ball out of the yard. Here's how they'll line up in Monday's bracket as hometown hero Giancarlo Stanton attempts to defend his title:
American League Quick Hits: The Indians placed Jason Kipnis on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. The early estimates are that he'll miss 3-4 weeks of action, which puts his anticipated return in late July or early August... Nate Jones suffered a setback in his recovery when he experienced renewed soreness in his right elbow while throwing on Saturday. He'll be re-evaluated over the All-Star break... Brad Miller crushed a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning to beat the Red Sox... Brad Peacock hurled six shutout innings in a victory over the Blue Jays... Carlos Correa blasted a pair of home runs (19 and 20 on the season) as the Astros pummeled the Blue Jays 19-1... Jose Altuve reached base five times and launched his 13th homer in that rout... Adam Jones crushed two home runs as the Orioles walloped Kyle Gibson and the Twins... Clint Frazier swatted his third home run in a loss to the Brewers... J.C. Ramirez fired six shutout innings to beat the Rangers... Eric Hosmer had three hits and swatted his 12th home run in a losing effort against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers... Felix Hernandez struck out eight over six scoreless innings in a vintage performance to beat the Athletics... Lonnie Chisenhall was forced to leave Sunday's game against the Tigers due to a right calf injury... Mariners' bullpen coach Mike Hampton resigned from his position, effective immediately. No replacement has been named yet... Chris Davis (oblique) is expected to rejoin the Orioles immediately following the All-Star break.... Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com reports that the Cubs have inquired about the availability of Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris from the Tigers... Jose Ramirez launched his 17th home run in a loss to the Tigers... Justin Wilson upped his trade value a bit, recording the final five outs against the Indians to earn his 10th save.
National League Quick Hits: Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Yankees are pursuing a trade for Marlins' first baseman Justin Bour...Ryan Braun sat out Sunday's game due to a calf injury, but are calling it a day-to-day situation... Yangervis Solarte (oblique) has begun taking swings from the left side of the plate and could be ready for a rehab assignment shortly after the All-Star break... Jameson Taillon was scratched from his scheduled start against the Cubs on Sunday due to flu-like symptoms... Tommy Pham was forced to leave Sunday's game against the Mets due to tightness in his left hip... Paul DeJong blasted his ninth home run in a victory over the Mets... Lance Lynn fired seven scoreless innings in that victory... Joe Ross was forced to leave Sunday's start against the Braves due to tenderness in his right triceps. He's heading for an MRI to determine the extent of the injury... Travis Shaw homered and plated four in a victory over the Yankees... Jon Lester was obliterated in a loss to the Pirates, allowing 10 runs (four earned) on six hits in just 2/3 of an inning... Francisco Cervelli crushed a grand slam and plated five runs in that lopsided victory over the Cubs... Charlie Blackmon belted his 20th homer in a win over the White Sox... Pat Valaika homered and drove in five runs in that win... Jerad Eickhoff hurled five scoreless innings and struck out eight in his return from the disabled list, earning his first victory of the season... Freddy Galvis blasted two of his team's six home runs in a rout of the Padres... A.J. Pollock homered and swiped a pair of bases in a loss to the Reds... Homer Bailey pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball to beat the Diamondbacks in Arizona. The same week that he beat the Rockies at Coors... Justin Turner blasted two homers (9 and 10 on the season) and drove in three runs as the Dodgers topped the Royals... Freddie Freeman crushed a three-run homer in a loss to the Nationals... Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Red Sox are interested in a package deal with the Marlins that includes Martin Prado and David Phelps...Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia indicates that the Phillies are interested in moving Tommy Joseph to create a spot for Rhys Hoskins... Warming up for the Home Run Derby, Giancarlo Stanton blasted a pair of home runs (25 and 26 on the year) to beat the Giants.