Miami in recent memory has been a house of horrors for the Colorado Rockies. With a 7-17 record in their matchups prior to Opening Day at Marlins Park since its opening in 2012, a rebound was in order.
Whether it’s a downgraded Marlins club or a hungry-for-success Rockies’ lineup, those demons were exorcized for the visitors in a resounding 6-3 win.
The offense produced nine hits in the bout, with their early struggles giving way to a middle-inning resurgence. Ahead are a handful of takeaways from the Rockies’ opening victory.
Freeland picks up where he left off
Out to prove last year wasn’t an anomaly, Kyle Freeland pitched a perfect game through the first 3.2 innings. He only allowed two hits, a lone earned run and struck out five through his seven innings before his day came to a close, met with a Bud Black handshake and pat on the back.
The start was Freeland’s first Opening Day nod of his young career and continued a trend of homegrown starters for the club. After Jon Gray’s last two outings on Opening Day, the Rockies moved their streak of drafted starters opening the year to three-consecutive years, only their second streak of three or more games in franchise history.
From the start, Freeland was effective.
In the opening stanza, the left-hander struck out a pair, with a strikeout to end each of the next two subsequent innings. The little doses of contact throughout the game that Freeland did allow were on the ground, with 12 of his 15 non-strikeout outs being a groundball.
As fatigue began to set in for Freeland, he gritted through the seventh inning behind a head nod from his skipper in the dugout.
Though the Miami Marlins figure to be one of the league’s worst clubs this year, Freeland’s efforts were a continuation of last year’s breakout campaign and supply the club with confidence in his 2019 outlook.
Desmond produces a mixed bag of results
With his shift from first base to centerfield, Ian Desmond has been forced to revert back to his Texas Rangers’ days as an everyday outfielder. In his newly-minted spot, Desmond had a quality outing.
On several flyballs, Desmond was able to garner a quality jump, even chasing down a second-inning line drive off the bat of Garrett Cooper that would’ve likely fallen last year. The rest of the outfield also had a good day, without a single error amongst the trio.
At the plate, after one of the worst seasons of his 10-year career, Desmond showed the blemishes that hindered him last year, with a glimpse of hope intertwined.
In his first two plate appearances, Desmond grounded out and struck out swinging, with each at-bat being short and ineffective. For a guy that struggled to get on base last year, a pair of short at-bats without solid contact supplied flashbacks of last year’s struggles.
When his third chance came around, Desmond was able to feed off of the club’s prior success, doubling on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. The line drive to center drove in David Dahl.
He finished the day 1-4, with a lone strikeout matching his run batted in.
With Desmond’s fielding upgrade supplanting some of his hitting woes, the club is likely satisfied with the trade-off.
Early at-bats pay off for the visitors
Through the first nine hitters, Marlins’ starter Jose Urena allowed only two hits. Through the order though, the Rockies forced Urena to throw 45 pitches. As the game wore on, those at-bats paid off.
In their second time through the order, the Rockies compiled four hits and four runs. In their third look at the flamethrower before he was pulled, the club tacked on three more hits and a pair of runs.
The focus from the start from Urena was throwing a bevy of inside fastballs. Once the Rockies were able to key on the tendency, their ability to foul off inside pitches led to several balls into the outfield.
As the game continued on, the lineup was unable to find the same success but continued to rack up long at-bats, a feat that will aid their efforts as the series extends on.
In all, the Rockies’ offense forced the opposing staff to throw a total of 149 pitches in the win. Freeland’s seven-inning start, allowing the Rockies to only burn two relievers of their own, only adds to the advantage.
Iannetta proves Spring Training numbers are faulty
In 40 plate appearances in Arizona, Chris Iannetta slashed a mere .171/.275/.286 with a lone home run to show for his efforts. After barely eclipsing the Mendoza line last regular season, there was cause for concern.
Against the Marlins, Iannetta nearly topped his entire spring performance with a pair of hits, a walk and a run batted in. Each of the backstop’s hits were lined to the outfield, with his walk coming as part of a seven-pitch at-bat.
Last year, the Rockies’ catchers posted abysmal numbers, sinking the production of the club’s latter portion of the order. If Tony Wolters can match the efforts of Iannetta as the year goes on, those problems will likely be muted.