The headlines go to the grand slam that Edwin Encarnacion hit for the Yankees in the third inning of the Yankees 8-2 victory against the Rockies at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. It erased the Rockies 2-0 lead. But it wasn't the grand slam that doomed the Rockies. It was what preceeded the grand slam. It was the back-to-back walks that Rockies starter Kyle Freeland issued to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, after former teammate DJ LeMahieu singled.
“I was looking to get a ball in the ground, then the grand slam happened,” Freeland said. “The walks hurt me, not being able to get out of that jam with a double play or a popup.”
Without the walks, there's no grand slam. Without the walks, the Yankees rally is cut short. But then that's not a new storyline for the struggles of Freeland this year. A master of command in the past, he has not had the past success in locating pitches.
And with the walks comes problems with location of strikes, which is where the hitters start to feast.
Freeland has thrown 1,177 pitches this year, 425 taken for balls -- 36 percent of the pitches he has thrown. He has averaged 3.6 walks per nine innings. A year ago, when he set a franchise record for ERA for the season (2.85) and at Coors Field (2.40) and finished four in NL Cy Young voting, Freeland averaged 3.1 walks per nine innings.
He ranks third in the NL among pitchers who have worked at least 67 innings with 15.1 baserunners per nine inning, right behind teammate Antonio Senzatela (15.12) and one-time Rockies lefthander Drew Pomeranz (15.8).
At the Plate
The Rockies struck out 17 times against the Yankees last night, a team high for a nine-inning game. But then the Rockies have accounted for three of the 15 games in the NL this year in which a team has had hitters strike out 19 or more times, including a season-high 24 strikeouts twice (albeit in extra-inning games).
On the Mound
The Rockies not only have the worst record in the NL in the month of July and not only have the highest ERA, but their ERA is 7.89. That's 2.49 higher than the Padres, who rank 14th, and 4.53 higher than the Giants, who have the NL's best record in July at 13-2, including a four-game sweep at Coors Field last week.