Kyle Freeland upstaged ace Dylan Cease and the Rockies pocketed one of their most satisfying wins of the season.
Freeland pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and Alan Trejo, Yonathan Daza and C.J. Cron delivered in the clutch as the Rockies blanked the White Sox, 3-0, Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Freeland did what Freeland does when he’s on his game. He mixed in all of his pitches, scattered seven hits and struck out five. He did walk three, but the lefty induced six ground-ball outs, and cut short potential Chicago rallies with double plays in the first and second innings.
Freeland departed in the seventh inning leaving his team in a bit of a precarious situation with runners at first and second and Yoan Moncada coming to the plate representing the tying run. But right-hander Carlos Estevez came in to strike out Moncada and then pitched a scoreless eighth.
Closer Daniel Bard struck out the side in the ninth to notch his 30th save in 33 chances. Bard’s ERA is down to 2.03.
Cease, a leading candidate for the American League Cy Young Award, entered the afternoon with a 10-4 record and a 1.17 ERA over his last 19 starts. His 1.17 ERA was the lowest in White Sox history (since 1913) over any 19-start stretch in the same season.
But the Rockies scored all three of their runs against him and forced the right-hander to throw 107 pitches in just five innings. Cease has made 29 starts this season and Wednesday marked just the sixth time that he surrendered three or more runs.
It was a costly loss for Chicago. It now trails Cleveland by four games in the race for the AL Central title.
Cease used his high fastball and wicked slider to strike out eight, and the Rockies whiffed 15 times total, including four Ks by Charlie Blackmon. But Colorado hitters came through when they needed to.
Rookie Michael Toglia, starting in right field, led off the second with a walk and scored on Trejo’s double to left. Daza’s two-out, RBI single off Cease scored Trejo to make it 2-0.
Ryan McMahon ripped a ground-rule double off Cease to lead off the fifth and scored on C.J. Cron’s single to give the Rockies a 3-0 lead.
The Rockies are off Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Cubs beginning Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.