You root for a no-hitter, even as a disinterested fan; they’re rare and they’re exciting. But there were extra reasons to root for Kyle Freeland’s no-hit bid against the White Sox. He’s a rookie, for one, and was making just his 18th big-league start. He’s a Denver native, and was bidding to become only the fourth player ever to throw a no-hitter in his hometown for his hometown team.
That meant Freeland’s family was there, and this was his mother’s reaction when the no-hitter was broken up by a Melky Cabrera single with one out in the ninth:
Nooo! SHIT! Yeah, I feel you. That’s also a slightly more reserved “shit” there from Freeland’s girlfriend.
But where was Freeland’s father, who was in all the family reaction shots right up until the eighth inning, when he just disappeared somewhere else?
“I think he ran away to hide,” Freeland said.
Freeland was dealing. He’s a groundball pitcher (he’s a sinker-slider-cutter guy, but that sinkerball is a real weapon, one which he’s throwing 35 percent of the time, and even his fastball has more sinking action than the typical four-seamer), which is a good thing to be at Coors Field. But on Sunday he struck out nine batters, easily topping his old career high of six. He only allowed four balls out of the infield, one of them this Geraldo Parra diving catch to keep the no-hitter alive:
Freeland, who was born the year the Rockies came into existence, was looking to throw just the second no-hitter by a Rockies pitcher (after Ubaldo Jimenez in Atlanta in 2010) and the second no-hitter in Denver (after the Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo, who no-hit the Rockies in 1996).
It wasn’t to be. In the ninth, Melky Cabrera lined a two-strike pitch to left.
Freeland exited to a standing ovation, and Jordan Lyles got the final two outs to seal the 10-0 win over the White Sox.
It was a positive ending to an up-and-down first half for the Rockies, who despite recent struggles still hold a 7.5 game lead for the second wild card. Much of that unexpected success can be credited to Colorado’s rookie starters—as noted by ESPN, four of MLB’s top five rookie pitchers by WAR are Rockies. Freeland’s the best of the bunch, though, and if he can keep rolling and keep improving, you’re going to hear from him for a lot longer and a lot more than a near no-no.