The Colorado Rockies have been in this position before — a fast start to the season with quality wins and some exciting moments.
In most of their 30 seasons, the optimism has evaporated by the end of April, but some new faces and a four-game winning streak in the first week have brought renewed hope to Denver.
Following a two-game road sweep of the Texas Rangers and a day off, the Rockies will try to win their fifth successive game Thursday when they open a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs. The weekend set kicks off a seven-game homestand.
Kyle Freeland (0-1, 12.27 ERA) will make his second start of the season for Colorado while the Cubs send Justin Steele (1-0, 0.00) to the mound in a matchup of left-handers.
The Rockies’ two wins over the Rangers came with some highlight-reel plays. On Tuesday night, Randal Grichuk, who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in spring training, reached over the wall in right-center field to rob Corey Seager of a three-run home run.
The catch preserved a 3-1 lead in a game Colorado won 4-1.
“Our dugout went crazy,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “That was the play of the game even though it was the fifth inning.”
Freeland will try to keep the winning streak going. He struggled in his first start, a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, allowing five runs on five hits, but he did strike out six in 3 2/3 innings.
He is 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in three regular-season starts against Chicago. Freeland also started the 2018 wild-card game at Wrigley Field, throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings in a contest the Rockies won in 13 innings.
Steele is slated to make his second start of the season and the 11th of his young career. He broke into the majors last April and had a 4-4 record with a 4.26 ERA in 20 games (nine starts) as a rookie.
One of those 2021 starts came against Colorado on Aug. 25, soon after he was moved from the bullpen into the rotation. He gave up four runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings but didn’t get a decision.
In his initial start this season, Steele blanked the Milwaukee Brewers over five innings on Saturday, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out five in a 9-0 win.
At 26, Steele is a relative youngster in a rotation that features veterans Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly.
“We need him to be good for us to have success,” Chicago manager David Ross said. “He’s a big part of our future and success. I’ve definitely seen a maturity of still working through some things.”
The Cubs are coming off a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon, when Hendricks yielded all of the Pirates’ runs in just 3 2/3 innings.
Chicago won’t have right-hander Alec Mills (back) active for the weekend. He threw bullpen sessions on Sunday and Tuesday but has been dealing with an illness.
–Field Level Media