SAN DIEGO (AP) — Left-hander Kyle Freeland made a brilliant defensive play while holding San Diego to three hits in six scoreless innings and Charlie Blackmon hit a two-run homer in the Colorado Rockies’ 4-1 victory over the Padres on Friday night.
The Rockies have won the first two games of the season against the Padres, who have World Series aspirations after making it to the NL Championship Series last year. Not only are the Padres off to a rough start, but they were booed for the second straight night at Petco Park.
Freeland (1-0) made a sensational play to retire Austin Nola opening the fifth. Nola hit a soft dribbler down the third base line and Freeland hopped off the mound, gloved the ball, took two steps and made a jump throw — reminiscent of Derek Jeter — to first baseman C.J. Cron, who made a nice stretch to retire the runner. Freeland ended up sprawled face down in foul territory.
He squatted behind the mound for a few minutes and was checked by a trainer and manager Bud Black. He remained in the game.
Freeland said he knew third baseman Elehuris Montero was playing back and that he was the only one who had a chance. He said he made the play once before, as a rookie.
“It’s not an easy play to make — one, fielding the ball; two, getting the transfer; and three, getting up on the throw and making it accurate,” Freeland said. “You give it a go. You practice it obviously as a kid all the time trying to be like Jeter.”
Manager Bud Black said it might be the best play he’s ever seen.
“To go as far as he did, then the jump throw with some velocity behind it, what a play,” Black said. “We’ll see that one on replay highlight reels forever. That was fabulous.”
Freeland, who went 3-1 in five starts against San Diego last year, shut down the Padres and frustrated the superstars at the top of the lineup. Xander Bogaerts singled leading off the sixth but was erased by Manny Machado’s double-play ball to end the inning.
Bogaerts hit a sacrifice fly off former Padres closer Brad Hand in the eighth.
The Rockies took a 2-0 lead in the first on three hits and a walk against Nick Martinez (0-1). Ezequiel Tovar singled leading off the fifth and was aboard for Blackmon’s impressive shot to right with two outs. Martinez allowed four runs on six hits in seven innings.
Former Padres reliever Pierce Johnson, who signed a free agent with his hometown Rockies in the offseason, pitched the ninth for his first career save.
The Rockies are without closer Daniel Bard, who went on the injured list Thursday with anxiety.
“It was a ton of fun,” Johnson said. “Just the adrenaline going from warming up to the first guy you face is Manny, that’s a pretty good feeling. Those three outs are the hardest in baseball. I think any reliever, the most-coveted role is the closer’s role. I was fortunate enough to be that guy today but we’re just going to hold down the fort until Bard is back.”
REPPING THE AZTECS
Joe Musgrove, Machado and Bogaerts wore Kawhi Leonard No. 15 San Diego State basketball jerseys during the Padres’ batting practice as a nod to the Aztecs, who play in their first Final Four on Saturday. Musgrove, who grew up in suburban El Cajon, said the NBA star, who usually attends a few Padres games every summer, sent him a handful of jerseys. The Padres will open the gates early before Saturday evening’s game and show SDSU’s game against Florida Atlantic on the video board.
Padres: Musgrove, on the injured list with a broken left big toe, is scheduled to face live batters Saturday at the spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona. He said he’ll throw five innings and about 75 pitches.
Rockies RHP José Ureña, who was 3-8 with a 5.14 ERA last year, is scheduled to start Saturday night opposite RHP Michael Wacha, who will make his Padres debut. Wacha was 11-2 with a 3.22 ERA with Boston last year.
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