Freeland feeling it at plate, on mound

Freeland feeling it at plate, on mound

CINCINNATI -- Rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland has been impressive with his arm all year. 

Sunday, he showed he can swing the bat, too. Freeland went 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) to get the win in the Rockies' 6-4 victory over the Reds.

Chances are Freeland, the pitcher, would not have gotten the win without Freeland, the hitter, in the lineup. 

He went 2-for-2 with a home run to right, a double to left, two runs scored and a walk. He had two hits in 13 at-bats prior to Sunday. 

The homer was Freeland's first since his senior year at Thomas Jefferson High in Denver. He hit it out to make it 4-1.

"Pretty exciting," he said. "Once I connected with it out of the box, I thought it had a chance. Then, right as I was getting to first base, I kind of checked up on it again. I wasn't too sure until I saw it laying up over the fence."

Freeland works at hitting.

"I feel like any pitcher in the National League should take pride in their at-bats," he said. "Some pitchers on the mound will take pitchers for granted. I know I've done it. I'm guilty of it. It's hurt me. Take pride in all aspects of your game and it should pay off."

The home run and first career double did not shock Rockies manager Bud Black. 

"This guy is athletic," Black said. "The double over the left fielder's head, that was a slash. He pulled the bat and squared it up. That's some strength to the swing. 

"We watch these guys taking batting practice. ... Kyle's got a nice swing. He's a guy who can truly help his cause."

The double may have been bigger than the home run. It keyed the two-run second after the Rockies fell behind 1-0 in the first.

"With the pitcher up, that really just hurt me bad letting the pitcher get that double," Reds starter Bronson Arroyo said. "Second and third with nobody out, you have to get that out there. You've got two strikes on the pitcher, if he's going to slash, you've got to be able to at least get one out. I was trying to throw a fastball on the outer half and really make it tough to put the bunt down. It must have been on the plate. That hurt me."

Freeland, 24, is a Denver native. He played collegiately at the University of Evansville, and the Rockies picked him eighth overall in the 2014 Draft. He put up good numbers in the Minors -- 17-12, 3.49 ERA -- before making the rotation out of Spring Training this year.  

He had a 2.30 ERA over his last five starts, entering Sunday. He was that sharp for the most part on Sunday. He allowed an unearned run in the first, then settled in. He took a 6-1 lead and two-hitter into the sixth. 

But Jose Peraza led off with a triple off the wall in left. Joey Votto followed with a home run. Freeland got the next two hitters before giving up a home run to Scott Schebler. That ended his day.

Going into the sixth, Freeland had allowed two home runs on the year -- a span of 51 innings. 

"When Kyle keeps the ball to just above the knees or down, he's going to create a lot of ground balls at the rate he does -- one of the best in baseball," Black said. "When the ball gets elevated, it gets a little flat. The ball can be put in the air."

Freeland knows that.

"You can tell when you're not feeling your best and your command isn't pinpoint like you'd like it, that's where you've really got to grind through," Freeland said. "You've got to be fine with your pitches and really focus."

The home run barrage -- Carlos Gonzalez, DJ LeMahieu and Pat Valaika also hit solo shots -- was enough to overcome that sixth. 

John Fay is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Rockies on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.