MLB: Rockies try to cool off Bryce Harper, Phillies
Bryce Harper was the catalyst to Philadelphia’s run to the World Series last year, so when he started the season on the injured list it was a blow to the Phillies.
He returned to the lineup on May 2 — a mere 160 days after having Tommy John surgery — and has been hitting ever since. He raised his average to .361 after going 2-for-4 with a home run in Saturday night’s 7-4 win over Colorado and will try to lead Philadelphia to a road sweep of the Rockies on Sunday.
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The Phillies will send Aaron Nola (3-2, 4.44 ERA) to the mound against Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland (3-4, 3.57) to wrap up the three-game weekend series.
Rockies starter Ryan Feltner left Saturday’s game after taking a line drive off the back of his head in the second inning. Colorado manager Bud Black said after the game Feltner was taken to a local hospital and is under observation.
Harper was instrumental in the first two wins of the series. In Friday night’s 6-3 win he delivered a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning and Saturday night, he walked and scored in a four-run first inning.
He has been serving as the team’s designated hitter but still plays aggressively despite having had a surgery that requires at least a year of recovery for pitchers. He doesn’t take it lightly but he has always played all-out and he said he won’t change his style.
“This might sound bad, but if it blows it blows,” Harper said, pointing to his elbow, after Friday’s win. “I’m not going to be reckless, but I don’t want to go out there and be hesitant.”
He has helped Philadelphia surge to second place in the NL East Division. Nola will try to extend the Phillies’ five-game winning streak another day when he takes the mound.
Nola has fared well in his career against the Rockies, going 4-1 with a 3.42 ERA in eight starts.
While the Phillies are climbing in the standings, Colorado is falling after winning eight of 11 games. The Rockies have dropped two in a row and considering they started the season 8-20, they can’t afford a slump of any length.
Freeland is the pitcher they need on the mound to stop a losing streak before it starts, as long as he gets run support. He lost his last start, Monday in Pittsburgh, despite giving up just two runs over seven innings.
Freeland was hurt by one pitch in the game, a two-run homer by Rodolfo Castro off a poorly located fastball in the seventh inning that accounted for all of the scoring.
Freeland said after that loss he was trying to induce a ground ball for a double play but it didn’t work.
“I was definitely trying to pitch to contact to get a two-for-one special there,” Freeland said. “I’m one of the guys who has been leading the league in double plays since I came into the league, so I’m always looking for a double-play ball.”
Freeland will be making his eighth career start against Philadelphia and fourth home outing against the reigning NL champs. In his previous seven starts he is 1-3 with a 4.20 ERA but has fared better at Coors Field.
In those three outings he is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA.
–Field Level Media
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