Anderson steps up after Freeland struck by liner

Lefty goes 4 innings in first action since June 25

Anderson steps up after Freeland struck by liner

PHOENIX -- Rockies left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson wasn't counting on entering Monday night's game early. He had confidence rookie lefty Kyle Freeland would handle the D-backs.

That changed when the D-backs' J.D. Martinez opened the fourth by launching a 115-mph (according to Statcast™) line drive that hit Freeland on his left shoulder and glanced off his left jaw. Freeland walked off and Anderson, who had not pitched in the Majors since he injured his left knee on June 25, snapped into action and pitched four scoreless innings and earned the decision in the Rockies' 5-4 victory.

"'Free' has had a really good year so I thought he probably was going to go out, throw six or seven [innings] and give us a chance," Anderson said. "But the role in the bullpen is be ready at any time.

"Rule No. 1, be ready for anything."

Freeland gets hit in shoulder

Rockies manager Bud Black often recites "Rule No. 1."

Monday, when Anderson struck out four, gave up one hit and didn't walk anyone, he was exhibit No. 1.

First of all, the club announced Freeland's injury as a left shoulder contusion. Although the glancing blow left a small knot on his jaw, that was not considered serious. The Rockies are optimistic that Freeland will recover quickly.

"That ball was smoked -- that was a direct hit," Black said. "But we think that he's going to be OK. I imagine it's going to be sore. A baseball hit that hard, that's going to do some damage."

While the Rockies breathed easier about Freeland, they can celebrate Anderson's readiness.

Anderson has had two bouts with knee issues. The first one cost him three weeks at the start of June. He returned June 22 with a relief inning in a home loss to the D-backs. It was his first experience out of the bullpen since 2010, while at the University of Oregon. He started against the Dodgers three games later, but left after 2 1/3 innings and later underwent surgery.

Because he wasn't cleared to have Minor League rehab appearances until late August, he wasn't able to build his pitch count to starter level. The Rockies activated him Sunday.

Martinez, who was on first base when Anderson entered the game, would eventually score on Adam Rosales' sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead. But Anderson made sure nothing else good happened for the D-backs while he was in the game.

"He sort of held that inning down after a leadoff baserunner," Black said. "As he moved into the game, his stuff was better. He started making pitches. He used the fastball-change-slider combination really well. He was outstanding. You could say he was the key to the game."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.