Pressure? What pressure? Sure, the Colorado Rockies are in the driver’s seat to grab the franchise’s first-ever National League West title, but don’t even suggest to manager Bud Black or anyone else in the clubhouse that these are pressure-packed games.
Sure, to me and you, they are. When Colorado Rockies closer Wade Davis was facing the tying run in the top of the ninth of Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field, yes, there was pressure. I felt it. How about you? Many of you on Twitter certainly did.
Davis did his job, however, recording his league-leading 39thsave of the season and nailing down the win for Kyle Freeland, who moved to 14-7 on the campaign with his 20thquality start of the season. Scattering four hits over six innings and giving up just a solo home run to Chris Taylor in the fifth inning, Freeland once again showed why he should absolutely be in the conversation for Cy Young voting.
A 2.91 ERA has earned him that right. A 2.47 ERA has earned Scott Oberg the confidence of Black to come in and get three huge strikeouts in the seventh inning. A 1.93 ERA is just another part of what has been a fantastic season for Adam Ottavino.
More from Rox Pile
- A Colorado Rockies Thanksgiving
- Colorado Rockies: What if Todd Helton had played football instead?
- Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon out for the season
- Colorado Rockies: Injuries shift look of roster ahead of Dodgers series
- Colorado Rockies: Has Sean Bouchard earned a second look in 2023?
And, by the way, if Freeland deserves some Cy Young chatter, doesn’t Ottavino deserve some Comeback Player of the Year buzz after not even making the Wild Card roster last season with a 5.06 ERA? Just saying.
Entering the game with just a half-game lead over the Dodgers in the division and less than 24 hours after an emotionally charged loss to Los Angeles, Colorado’s clubhouse was loose before the game.
After the game? Freeland took a few minutes before addressing the media because he needed to finish a huge ping pong matchup, teaming with Gerardo Parra for the win.
If the pressure is rising at 20thand Blake, it doesn’t seem that way. With 21 games left in the season, Black is preaching the same message he was when I first interviewed him in March in Arizona. Be ready for anything … and that includes being right in the middle of a three-team jockey match for a guaranteed spot in the postseason.
"“Whether it’s a spring training game, whether it’s a game in May, whether it’s a game in the dog days of August or September, we have to play the same game,” Black emphatically told Rox Pile and other members of the media after Saturday’s victory. “Pressure is what you make of it. I get it. Our group will play at a high level of intensity and continue to embrace, in your word (addressing Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, who asked the question), pressure.“It’s great. Our guys want it. They want to be in this situation. But we can’t do anything different. We have to play even keel with intensity and fire and poise. And Kyle did that, man. He did great.”"
Kyle did do that, striking out the side in the third as part of a stretch of retiring seven of eight batters prior to Taylor’s solo shot. He also did it in the first inning when Justin Turner laced a one-out single to get on base. However, the next batter, Manny Machado, dribbled one back to Freeland, who started the double play to end the frame.
In arguably what could have been his most pressure-packed start of his career, Freeland shrugged his shoulders and made his pitches when he needed to … just like he has in so many games this season.
"“It’s another game, in my eyes. It’s another game in the team’s eyes,” Freeland told Rox Pile and other reporters after the game."
Sunday will be the same, when the Dodgers try to win the series. Monday through Thursday will be the same as well, when Arizona comes to town to try to knock the Rockies out of first place. The final nine games of the NL West slate will be as well … all on the road and against the Giants, Dodgers and Diamondbacks.
The pressure is there, but the Rockies don’t seem to be fazed by it. They expect to win … and that’s just what they’re doing.