The Colorado Rockies have been to the postseason five times in their 27 seasons, but never as the division champions.
The way they've played at the start of this season, an NL West crown is realistic.
The San Francisco Giants slowed down the Rockies for at least one night with a 4-3 win on Wednesday. Colorado had won four in a row and eight of its previous nine with strong starting pitching and a strong offense.
Thursday presents a chance to start another winning streak. Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland (2-0, 1.50 ERA) will make his third start of the season and his second one at home.
The Giants will send lefty Tyler Anderson against his former team. Anderson has not faced the Rockies.
Freeland's confidence is growing after a tough 2019. He was the team's ace the year before but went 3-11 last season. He made some adjustments before 2020, and it has shown in his outings against the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres.
"Kyle's made some great adjustments over the last 12 months, from a guy with a heavy fastball/slider reliance to a pitcher now who has four quality pitches," Colorado manager Bud Black told reporters Wednesday. "A really nice mix of four pitches in his arsenal and pitching with a lot of confidence."
Freeland is facing San Francisco for the 13th time in his short career. In 12 career starts against the Giants, he is 6-3 with a 3.12 ERA (66 1/3 innings, 23 earned runs) and has fared even better against them at Coors Field. In seven home starts against San Francisco he is 5-1 with a 3.26 ERA (38 2/3 innings, 14 earned runs), 11 walks and 24 strikeouts.
The Rockies' bats will look to bounce back from a quiet Wednesday, when their streak of eight straight games of scoring five or more runs ended. Nolan Arenado continued his career-long assault on San Francisco pitching, however, hitting a solo home run -- his third of the season and the third game in a row he has gone deep -- to get Colorado within a run.
Arenado has now hit 31 career home runs against the Giants. Since 2013, his 31 home runs are the fourth most by any player against any single opponent shy;-- Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout has 41 against Seattle -- the most by an NL player against an NL opponent.
The Giants don't have the star-studded staff that helped them win three World Series titles in five seasons, but they do have some exciting young players. One of them, outfielder Alex Dickerson, has impressed manager Gabe Kapler.
"Dickerson is exactly what we thought he'd be, a real threat against right-handed pitching," Kapler said Wednesday. "The two-hole is a really important spot for us, a guy who's a huge threat to get on base and a huge threat to do damage."
The guy who did major damage against Colorado on Wednesday night was a veteran, first baseman Brandon Belt. He had a double and a three-run homer to show the way for the young team.
Anderson, 30, was the 20th overall pick by Colorado in 2011. He is 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA in three games (one start) this season. He was 18-24 with a 4.69 ERA in 73 games (71 starts) with the Rockies from 2016-19002E
--Field Level Media