Rookie lefties duel as Giants look to sweep Rockies
SAN FRANCISCO — Two young left-handers who already have tasted some success against their Wednesday opponent will square off in the finale of a three-game series between the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants.
The Rockies’ Kyle Freeland will seek to end his club’s season-worst, seven-game losing streak and winless road trip when he duels with the Giants’ Ty Blach.
San Francisco has won the first two games of the series, including a 14-inning affair Tuesday night that lasted 4 hours, 45 minutes.
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Freeland is arguably the best rookie pitcher in the National League this season, having compiled an 8-5 record and a 3.70 ERA in 15 starts.
The 24-year-old ranks second among NL rookies in wins, and first in wins on the road, where he is 4-2 with a 4.14 ERA.
Freeland will be making his AT&T Park debut, but already he is no stranger to the Giants, having earlier pitched 8-0 and 5-1 home wins. He allowed just one run in 13 innings (0.69 ERA) in those games.
One guy Freeland has never faced is Giants third baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang, who is expected to make his major league debut Wednesday.
The South Korean has hit .287 with seven home runs at Triple-A Sacramento, earning him the promotion that Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated would be announced Wednesday.
“This is one of the best parts of the game for a manager,” Bochy said of Hwang’s debut. “It’s when you can welcome and shake hands or even hug a guy who’s worked hard for this opportunity. I’ll be as happy as he is to see him here.”
Hwang will line up at third base beside Blach, who could be making his last start in a while.
Having filled in during Madison Bumgarner’s shoulder injury, Blach (4-5, 4.86 ERA) appears to have hit a rookie wall in recent starts. He went 0-3 in his past four starts, having been bombed for 22 runs and 37 hits in 21 1/3 innings (9.28 ERA).
Bumgarner, who made a successful rehab start in the rookie-level Arizona League on Sunday, is expected to return to the rotation after the All-Star break.
The Giants have two off days between now and then, meaning they will have the opportunity to send Blach back to the bullpen if they so choose.
The 26-year-old has pitched well against the Rockies, both as a starter and out of the bullpen. He has allowed just three runs in 9 2/3 innings four head-to-head meetings this season.
Like the Giants, the Rockies are looking forward to having a prospect make a splash Wednesday.
Outfielder Mike Tauchman grounded out in his major league debut in Colorado’s 4-3 loss Tuesday. He is a candidate to make his first start in the series finale.
“His approach and his swing should be able to handle big-league pitching,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Tauchman, who hit .313 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs at Triple-A Albuquerque before the promotion. “It’s nice to see his power. Will that translate? We’ll see.”
Colorado’s lineup will be without DJ LeMahieu on Wednesday. The second baseman experienced cramping in his right groin during the Tuesday game and left in the fourth inning. The injury is not considered serious, although Black announced after the game that LeMahieu would not start the series finale.