Rockies hit road to face red-hot Mariners

MLB Baseball

A big-league ballplayer is often his own worst critic.

Colorado Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland is trying the opposite.

“You have to be your best critic — knowing when you were the best, and when you’re the worst, being able to look back and know that you’ve had consistent success,” Freeland said.

“That is a good reminder, to let yourself know you can do this, you can accomplish things, you can make your adjustments, you can get back to where you want to be.

“It’s all a learning process through successes and failures.”

Lately, it’s been more about failures for Freeland, who is scheduled to start Tuesday night when the Rockies open a two-game interleague series at Seattle.

Freeland (0-2, 9.58 ERA) has struggled in his five starts since returning from a left shoulder strain that caused him to miss nearly the first third of the season.

Since going 17-7 and finishing fourth in the National League’s Cy Young Award voting in 2018, Freeland is a combined 5-16 with a 6.16 ERA in 40 starts over three seasons. He’s undergone changes to his delivery and a trip to the minor leagues.

“He made a lot of adjustments,” said Rockies manager Bud Black, who started his 15-year pitching career in the majors with the Mariners. “We have a lot of belief in him … he’s just in a bad spot, not making pitches.”

Freeland’s three starts this month have been ugly, giving up 18 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his most recent start Wednesday against San Diego, giving up five runs on nine hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He didn’t lose that game as the Rockies rallied for an 8-7 victory.

“Elusive is a good word for it. … Trying to get that elusive feeling is where I’m at right now,” Freeland said. “I am trusting my pitches as much as I can, but it’s getting to the point of that feeling — knowing I’m going to stick this pitch where I want it to be, instead of hoping that it doesn’t move back into the zone.

“It’s just me being consistent on the edges of the zone, and my small misses missing off instead of big misses right in the middle.”

The Rockies are just 5-27 on the road, but Freeland has had success in Seattle, going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts.

The Mariners have won seven of their past eight games and are coming off a four-game sweep of the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays. Shed Long Jr. hit a grand slam in the 10th inning Sunday to give Seattle a 6-2 victory.

“If they haven’t yet (been paying attention to the Mariners), then they better now,” Long said.

Added manager Scott Servais: “We’re playing on top of our game right now. It’s really fun to watch young players’ confidence grow and what they can do and the excitement they bring. Hopefully our fans are enjoying it.”

Mariners right-hander Chris Flexen (6-3, 4.12) is scheduled to start the series opener. Flexen pitched a career-high eight scoreless innings last Tuesday in a 10-0 victory against Minnesota with eight strikeouts.

Flexen is 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in two career appearances(one start) against the Rockies.

–Field Level Media

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