The Dodgers believe they have the personnel to excel against left-handed pitching, both in returning players they expect to improve over last season and in new players brought in. But none of that has materialized just yet, with rookie Kyle Freeland the latest to shut the Dodgers down in the Rockies’ 2-1 win on Friday afternoon at Coors Field.
Freeland, a Denver native, shined in his major league debut, striking out six in six innings, allowing just one run.
Logan Forsythe and Franklin Gutierrez, the Dodgers’ two biggest additions against left-handers this offseason, batted 1-2 against Freeland, and were a combined 0-for-6 with four strikeouts against him.
The Dodgers were able to plate a run when Scott Van Slyke, making his first start at first base, doubled in the fourth inning. He advanced to third on a bunt by Yasmani Grandal — scored a sacrifice, though it looked like Grandal might have been trying to push one for a hit — then scored on a ground ball.
Unlike on Tuesday against southpaw Clayton Richard, the Dodgers placed runners in scoring position on Friday in Colorado. But they were 0-for-5 in those plate appearances.
Hyun-jin Ryu had an up-and-down outing in just his second start since 2014. At times he was effective, and struck out five against just one walk. But it also seemed like things could have gone a lot worse.
He missed down the middle to Nolan Arenado in the first inning, and was punished with an RBI double. But Ryu didn’t allow another run until catcher Dustin Garneau homered off the left field foul pole in the fifth. Charlie Blackmon nearly hit another home run in the inning off the right field foul pole, but it was just foul.
Instead, Blackmon reached on a walk but a potential larger inning was neutered when he was called for runners interference on a force out at second, resulting in an automatic double play. Ryu’s day ended after just 4⅔ innings, but no more damage was done.
Both bullpens, as expected, were effective. Dodgers relievers — Ross Stripling, Grant Dayton, and Josh Fields — retired all 10 batters they faced, with Fields striking out DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez, and Nolan Arenado in succession.
The Rockies bullpen got three scoreless innings of their own, with Jake McGee pitching a scoreless ninth for the save, his first of the year.
The three combined runs were tied for the second-fewest combined runs scored by the Dodgers and Rockies in a game at Coors Field, done three other times. The only game at Coors between these two teams with fewer runs was on Sept. 14, 2008, a 1-0 Colorado win in a game that saw Aaron Cook pitch eight scoreless and Greg Maddux seven scoreless.
Five games in, the starting rotations reset for Saturday night, which means we get a fun pitching matchup between Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers and Jon Gray for the Rockies in the middle game of the series, a 5:10 p.m. PT start.
Home run: Dustin Garneau (1)
WP - Kyle Freeland (1-0): 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP - Hyun-jin Ryu (0-1): 4⅔ IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Sv - Jake McGee (1): 1 IP, 3 strikeouts