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Rockies ride strong pitching to beat Pirates 2-0 at Coors Field in “Opening Day 2.0”

If the Rockies could hit the reset button on their lost 2021 season, “Opening Day 2.0” would be a decent start.

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Colorado got five shutout innings from Kyle Freeland on Monday before he was forced to exit due to a leg cramp suffered while baserunning. Even so, the Rockies bullpen delivered in a 2-0 win over the Pirates in the series opener. The Rockies drew 32,092 in the first game that Coors Field could have full capacity since 2019.

With former Colorado pitcher Tyler Anderson toeing the rubber for Pittsburgh — Anderson started 71 games for the Rockies from 2016-19 — the game got off to a sleepy start.

Freeland got the Rockies’ offense going in the bottom of the third with a one-out bunt for a base hit. After Raimel Tapia’s fielder’s choice swapped him at first for Freeland, Yonathan Daza doubled to bring Tapia home and make it 1-0.

Pittsburgh right fielder Gregory Polanco took a poor route to cut off Daza’s ball in right-center, letting the ball to get by him and enabling the speedy Tapia to score standing up.

Freeland continued to cruise until the fifth, when the southpaw got into trouble after issuing a leadoff walk to Polanco. Freeland struck out the next batter, Kevin Newman, on a curveball in the dirt. But after blocking the pitch, catcher Elias Diaz flubbed picking the ball up, then made an errant throw down to first base as Newman reached safely on the error.

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Diaz atoned for the error in the bottom of the fifth, when he homered 433 feet to dead center field off his former team. But then Freeland, who escaped the top of the frame with no damage, exited the game with an apparent leg injury after running from first to third. He earned his first win of 2021.

With Freeland abruptly gone, the bullpen — which imploded in the sweep by the Brewers in Milwaukee over the weekend — stepped up. Tyler Kinley tossed a scoreless sixth, Jhoulys Chacin posted a zero in the seventh and Carlos Estevez set the Pirates down in order in the eighth.

Chacin’s scoreless outing was aided by a two-out, over-the shoulder grab by Daza on a ball hit to deep right-center field by Erik Gonzalez, a web gem that saved a run.

Daniel Bard converted his 11th save in 16 chances this season in the ninth, sealing Colorado’s second shutout of the season (April 7 against Arizona, 8-0).

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