|Freeland faces Matz in Rockies-Mets finale|
DENVER -- Two left-handers who have been very successful lately will square off Thursday when Kyle Freeland starts for the Colorado Rockies against Steven Matz of the New York Mets.
The Rockies will be looking to win the four-game series after winning their second straight game over the Mets 10-8 on Wednesday. Colorado will also be trying to avoid a dubious major league record. The Rockies have allowed at least eight runs in each of their past nine home games, tied with the St. Louis Browns in 1894 for the longest such streak.
Freeland (6-6, 3.59 ERA) has made 14 starts, half of which the Rockies have won. He worked a season-high seven innings for the fourth time this season in his last start Saturday at Texas. Freeland allowed two runs in seven innings, ending up with no-decision in Colorado's 5-2 loss.
In his past 10 starts, Freeland, 25, is 6-3 with a 2.89 ERA and has limited opposing hitters to a .237 average and a .646 OPS in that stretch. He's 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two career games (one start) against the Mets. The start was on May 6 at Citi Field this season when Freeland, the winning pitcher, allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and one walk in Colorado's 3-2 victory.
In eight starts at Coors Field this season, Freeland is 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA. A Denver native who grew up pitching in the city's mile-high altitude, Freeland is 9-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 24 career games (21 starts) at Coors Field and has never been fazed by the hitter-friendly ballpark.
"In my mind, it's baseball," Freeland said. "You have to make your pitches, no matter where you're at. Home runs are going to be home runs. People are going to hit good pitches here. People are going to hit bad pitches here. If you don't execute the pitch and they get whacked out of the park, it's going to happen here; it's going to happen at sea level.
"Things can snowball on you quicker here just because of how large our outfield is. But you still have to have that mentality of I can get out of this jam here."
While winning his last start, Matz (3-4, 3.31) gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings Saturday at Arizona in the Mets' 5-1 triumph. Matz lost 2-0 to the Rockies at Citi Field on May 5, giving up one run and three hits in six innings. He's 0-3, 6.50 in four career starts against the Rockies and 0-0, 5.40 in one start at Coors Field.
In his past five starts, Matz, 27, is 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA. During that stretch, Matz has allowed two or fewer runs in four of the five outings, and opposing batters are hitting .208 with a .609 OPS.
"He's in a good place mentally," New York pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "He's in attack mode, where he's attacking the hitters. Early in the year, he was a little bit unsure of himself, not really trusting his stuff as much. So therefore, he wasn't in attack mode. And when the first little thing would go wrong ... he would kind of lose his concentration, his focus, and it would affect the next few pitches and might make the difference in his outing.
"He's worked really hard at letting things go that are out of his control and just focusing on things he can control. And once he started doing it, he got back to believing in himself, trusting his stuff, attacking the strike zone, attacking the hitters."
At this point after nearly a month of superb pitching, Matz has a reservoir of success to draw upon when things do go wrong.
"I'm sure it still eats at him a little bit," Eiland said, "but he doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve, so to speak."