The Colorado Rockies finished off their first home series of 2020 on Sunday with a 9-6 victory over the San Diego Padres, winning two of the weekend’s three games. Here are three things we learned.
With the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres battling near the top of the National League West standings through the first week-plus of the 2020 Major League Baseball season and every game magnified in a 60-game race for the postseason, we’re watching games with a critical eye perhaps more than ever before.
So what did we see from the Rockies-Padres series that kicked off the month of August? Let’s start on the mound and Kyle Freeland’s dominant performance on Saturday night.
Needing a boost after a gut-punch loss on Friday night, the Rockies got just that from Freeland. The southpaw moved to 2-0 on the young season with a six-inning shutout performance where he scattered two hits to pace the Rockies to a 6-1 victory.
"“(Friday) night sucked, but we put it behind us,” Freeland told media members after Saturday’s game."
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After working on his delivery in the offseason, Freeland has, at least early on, shown signs that he has put a horrendous 2019 behind him as well. That is something both the 27-year-old Freeland and the Rockies franchise need for not only this season, but looking ahead to 2021 and beyond.
One of the biggest reasons for Freeland’s early success? Being able to fool the batters. He was locked in with his changeup against the Padres.
"“The changeup is one of those pitches that took me a long time to develop, but it’s at a stage now where I’m comfortable throwing it in any count,” Freeland said. “I’m very pleased with the kind of action I’m getting off it and the kind of swings I’ve been getting off it, and the kind of looks hitters are getting at that pitch to get them off my hard fastball and hard slider.”"
Comfort has been built with a new delivery and throwing secondary pitches in any count. That’s good news for Freeland and the Rockies moving forward.
Nolan Arenado is (as always) must-see television
It wasn’t as if we needed another reminder that Nolan Arenado is the best third baseman in the game today. However, the Colorado Rockies All-Star third baseman added another stellar play to his already impressive list of “wow moments” of the past with a grab on Saturday night. If you need a reminder of some of them from the past, we have the video proof here.
But that was then … and this is Saturday night. Check out this play from Arenado.
If you watch the end of that video, you can see the reaction from Kyle Freeland after Arenado makes the catch. After the game, I asked Freeland what he thought about the play as it happened live.
"“It shows the kind of player that he is,” Freeland said. “There are probably a lot of ballplayers out there that could see how far that ball was traveling, and how much it was tailing toward the seats, that would maybe pull up and not go 100 percent to it. That’s not Nolan. “Making that play was incredible, and you could just feel the air taken out of the Padres’ wings.”"
Arenado called it “another out” in his postgame press conference, but that wasn’t the feeling on social media or in the press box. Arenado did admit, however, that he had never gone that far for a play (an estimated 111 feet) and actually made it in a game.
At the age of 29, Arenado is in the prime of his career. On Saturday, he showed just how special that career has been and continues to be.