Freeland leads Rockies to 1-0 win over Nats in home opener
DENVER (AP) — Denver native Kyle Freeland began the show and fellow Mile High City product Pierce Johnson wrapped it up.
From start to finish, the pitchers who grew up going to games at Coors Field shined.
Freeland pitched four-hit ball over 6 2/3 innings, Johnson threw a perfect ninth and the Colorado Rockies won their home opener 1-0 over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.
“That was so cool,” said Johnson, who earned his second save. “Being able to do it in a place where I used to come and watch games growing up, and all my family and friends were here, I can’t even put it into words.”
Kris Bryant drove in the only run with a single in the fifth. It was the 12th 1-0 game in Denver — the 11th at Coors Field — and first since July 4, 2018, when Colorado beat San Francisco.
This was a quick game at Coors Field, too, taking 2 hours, 18 minutes. Last season’s home opener lasted 3:09.
Freeland (2-0) struck out five and walked two before turning things over to the bullpen. He tipped his cap to the capacity crowd on the way off the field.
“I wanted to let the state of Colorado know I love them,” Freeland said. “It’s great seeing everyone out there and supporting us, behind us with everything.”
The game was moving at such a brisk pace that Johnson had to hustle to make sure he was warmed up. He’s filling in as the closer for Daniel Bard, who went on the injured list with anxiety issues.
“Freeland truly did an amazing job today,” Johnson said. “He kept them on their toes and got a lot of quick outs.”
Jurickson Profar put on a fielding exhibition in left field, beginning with his first-inning leaping grab at the wall. What added to the difficulty was fending off a fan’s glove that was reaching over for a souvenir.
He was far from done. He made a diving catch in the second and a long, running catch in the fifth.
His favorite one?
“All of them,” Profar cracked. “Being able to help Kyle and the team get the ‘W’ on defense feels good.”
Profar is still getting to know his surroundings after signing with Colorado on March 21. He is so new to Coors Field that he asked a clubhouse attendant before the game to point him to the batting cages.
It was an efficient bounce-back performance from Nationals starter Josiah Gray (0-2), who allowed one run over six innings against Colorado. In his first start, Gray surrendered five runs over five innings in a loss to Atlanta.
“With every good start, you just have that much more confidence going out for the next one,” Gray said. “Now I even have more confidence.”
The sun played a role in the Rockies’ only run. Right fielder Lane Thomas lost the ball in the glare, which resulted in a double by Ezequiel Tovar. Bryant brought him in with a liner to left.
“I saw it the whole time until it just got on me,” said Thomas, whose team dropped its fourth straight game. “I kind of hesitated a little bit. I told (Gray), ‘I’m sorry.’”
Nationals: OF Corey Dickerson (left calf strain) has started some light hitting in the cage. “He’s feeling better each and every day, which is a good sign,” manager Dave Martinez said. ... INF Carter Kieboom (right shoulder impingement) threw 25 times to bases Tuesday. “Now, it’s just the workload for him, getting through it every day,” Martinez said. ... C Israel Pineda (right finger fracture) is going through various baseball activities except for hitting.
Rockies: RHP Antonio Senzatela (knee) is progressing to the point where he might soon throw in an extended spring training game. ... Manager Bud Black said OF Randal Grichuk (bilateral sports hernia) “continues to improve but again no timetable.”
The Nationals will start lefty MacKenzie Gore (1-0, 1.69 ERA) against Colorado on Friday night. The Rockies will counter with righty José Ureña (0-1, 15.43).
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