Each year, in celebration of the critically-acclaimed Game of Thrones series, the Colorado Rockies have dedicated an entire night to the theme. With photoshopped dragons adorning each player’s picture on the scoreboard, their performance on the field fell short of heroic.
Behind the efforts of a soaring offense, the Baltimore Orioles took the second leg of the three-game set with the Rockies, 9-6.
Ahead are takeaways from the loss.
Freeland fails to freeze the opposition
For Rockies’ pitchers, replication has long been a conundrum. Outlier seasons like Ubaldo Jimenez’ 2010 campaign (2.88 earned run average) and Jhoulys Chacin’s 2013 (5.7 wins above replacement) have occurred. For Kyle Freeland, his 2.85 ERA and top-five National League Cy Young finish appear to be another example.
Regression was expected. Only two pitchers, outside of Freeland, in franchise history have ever dueled Coors Field and came out with an ERA under 3.00. If not for his breakout, the southpaw would likely have been demoted by now, a step back that few expected.
In his latest start, Freeland only made it through four innings and allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits.
The onslaught began early against the Colorado native.
Of the Orioles’ four hits in the opening frame, two had an exit velocity north of 107 miles per hour. To make matters worse, Raimel Tapia sailed a pair of throws over his cut-off man on singles, effectively turning the pair of hits into doubles, while also allowing the runs to score.
In three of his four frames, Freeland allowed a run, with his final stanza being his worst.
On the year, Freeland’s ERA once again climbed and now sits at 6.71. The pair of home runs against him also brought his total to 14 on the year after he allowed only 17 in 33 starts last year.
Villar plays the role of villain in Freeland’s redemption chance
In interleague play, both teams have a steep edge in one area of the game.
“The advantage (in Interleague play) goes to the pitcher when there (are) very few looks,” Bud Black said before the game.
Those rules seemingly apply to hitters not named Jonathan Villar.
In only three at-bats against Freeland prior to their latest matchup, the versatile infielder had garnered two hits, both singles. Only two other hitters in the Orioles lineup had ever faced the young left-handed starter of the Rockies.
Villar, in three more at-bats against Freeland, registered three more hits, including a back-breaking three-run homer:
Pitching, Defense, and… pic.twitter.com/CPPyKJ0M53
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 26, 2019
As Jon Gray has experienced with Hunter Renfroe, sometimes a guy just has an opposing pitcher’s number.
Nolan makes it two straight nights of history
For opposing pitchers, Nolan Arenado is a nightmare. In his latest example, the slugger took a 95-mile-per-hour fastball that was multiple inches and deposited it into the seats:
Career home run number 2️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ for Nolan.
Here's to many more! pic.twitter.com/KvuI9o9XsI
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) May 26, 2019
The home run was the 200th of Arenado’s career, marking the second night in a row that the Rockies have celebrated a homegrown player hitting a century mark. On Friday, the honor went to Trevor Story with his 100th.
Including his long ball, Arenado went 3-for-4 on the night and shouldered the offensive load for the club once again as he drove in five runs. The three-hit performance was his ninth of the year, the most in the majors. After a career-worst slump to start the year, Arenado has also homered 14 times, tied for the sixth-highest mark in the NL.
In May, Arenado’s hit .422 with eight home runs and 21 runs batted in. His average leads the NL among hitters with over 50 plate appearances.
Bettis continues subtle case for a rotation spot
The most recent start for Chad Bettis came on April 12th. His demotion to the bullpen following that start stemmed from his allowance of 13 earned runs in only 13.1 innings to start the year.
Since then, Bettis has appeared in 11 games and allowed only four earned runs in 16.1 innings, lowering his season ERA to 5.16. In relief of Freeland after another short start, the starter-turned-reliever hurled a pair of scoreless frames and struck out four.
Freeland’s aforementioned struggles, Tyler Anderson’s knee surgery and the up-and-down ways of Antonio Senzatela have raised a bevy of questions in the Rockies’ rotation. Bettis’ recent run has created a possible replacement if those storylines continue.