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Updated: 27 min 8 sec ago

Mountain Vista claims first 5A baseball championship in program history

37 min 7 sec ago

The only things standing between Mountain Vista and its first Class 5A baseball state championship Sunday were two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning when southpaw Jack Liffrig slipped on the infield grass and fell to his chest.


A Heritage runner crossed home plate to cut the Vista lead to five runs, and now its senior ace hit the deck attempting to cover first base. If any worry existed whether Liffrig felt comfortable in this moment, the biggest of his four seasons at Vista, he erased it quickly. Liffrig rose from the grass — but not until his “Did I do that?” swagger lightened a tense and near-capacity crowd at All-City Field.

“Jack just started doing push-ups,” Vista junior first baseman Jon Zakhem said. “He’s a crazy kid.”

After a quick set of about five up-downs, Liffrig sprung to his feet, struck out two batters in succession and then held both arms out wide as teammates and coaches rushed from the dugout to dogpile after a 7-2 victory. Liffrig’s resilience was one of several team story lines that had coach Ron Quintana fighting back tears while holding the championship trophy.

“Emotional,” Quintana said. “This is for every kid that has played Vista baseball. We’ve always been real close knocking on the door — and we finally did it.”

Vista, established 2001 in Highlands Ranch, reached the state finals and lost in 2006 and 2009. But about two seasons back, Quintana saw a new generation of Golden Eagles underclassmen poised to take the next step. Their potential entering this spring wouldn’t go unrecognized, either, with at least six players committed to play at the next level: Liffrig (Utah), RHP Sam Ireland (Minnesota), RHP Clay Burke (Oregon), SS Zach Paschke (Metro State), 2B Drew Stahl (Washington State) and C Grant Magill (Indiana State).

Vista maintained a No. 1 Class 5A ranking from The Denver Post and The Associated Press for almost the entirety of a perfect 21-0 regular season.

“This group has played together for a few years now,” Quintana said. “They put the work in day in and day out year round. … We talk about being a winner and expecting it. We were playing for this.”

Added Liffrig: “We honestly didn’t care about the rankings.”

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Vista’s title quest was humbled, though, when Arapahoe handed it a 8-1 first-round defeat in the double-elimination tournament. Zakhem said: “After that loss, we were just hungry to come back and win it all. We knew we had the team to do it.” The Golden Eagles left little doubt. A 2-1 win over defending champ Rocky Mountain. A 5-4 victory against Pine Creek. And then, a 5-0 route of Heritage to reach Sunday.

Vista blasted Mountain Range 14-4 in the morning game to earn a winner-take-all rematch with Heritage for the championship. No small task facing Heritage senior right-hander Riley Egloff, a Yavapai College (Ariz.) signee whose fastball touches the low 90s, on the mound. The Golden Eagles (26-1), again, remained unfazed.

Zakhem singled to right field in the second inning to score the game’s first run, and Vista never looked back, adding five hits and six runs in the fourth to run away with the title. The Golden Eagles joined their fan base on the diamond long after the final out to soak in every moment.

“It’s just crazy to have all your friends and family out on the field celebrating this moment,” said Zakhem, who went 3-for-4 at the plate in the title game. “It’s amazing.”

Liffrig was equally elated, and smooth, in his assessment of his performance — including those crunchtime push-ups. “Don’t make it all bigger than it has to be,” he explained. “Baseball is a kid’s game.” Liffrig will remember this moment forever.

“I’ve thrown a lot of complete games, but have never gotten a ring after one of them,” Liffrig said. “It was just pure happiness. Childhood dreams coming true.”

Cavaliers vs. Celtics live blog: Real-time updates from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals

41 min 24 sec ago

Live updates from the Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics NBA playoff game, May 27, 2018, at TD Garden.

Mobile users, if you can’t see the live blog, tap here.

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Loveland rescue dog receives the gift of mobility

53 min 43 sec ago

FORT COLLINS — When Fozzie entered the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Tuesday, she was adept at hopping on her front two legs, pulling her paralyzed back legs behind her as she moved.

When the young dog left an hour later, she sped out the door on two legs and two wheels, with a donated cart to help her mobility, though it also seemed to immediately boost her confidence.

“Nothing is going to stop her,” said Loveland resident Kathy Brodersen, who adopted the border collie mix after she was rescued from the streets of Nepal and brought to Colorado.

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“This will be so cool. She can eat without me having to hold her up. … Our dreams came true. For seven months, this was our dream.”

As a puppy, Fozzie was hit by a car on the streets of Nepal and left for dead. She survived, but the way her injuries healed left her paralyzed. One back leg is turned around, backwards from the way nature intended, and the other is locked in a flexed position, explained Sasha Foster, certified canine rehabilitation therapist.

Fozzie’s spine is curved, with the lower vertebrae fused, which made it more challenging to fit the cart specifically to Fozzie’s anatomy.

Read the full story at

PHOTOS: WWII Medal of Honor recipient receives burial plaque 74 years after his death

1 hour 26 min ago

Red, white and blue ruffled through the air as wind waved flags that dotted the cemetery’s grass.

A small group, most in uniform and a few in civilian clothes, gathered in block 46 of the sprawling Olinger Crown Hill Mortuary and Cemetery in Wheat Ridge. A stone marker with a folded flag on top sat waiting to be placed in the ground.

The stone’s light-colored granite contrasted with its gold lettering: “In memory of Elmer E. Fryar.”

The man died in 1944 while fighting in the Leyte Province in the Philippines during World War II. He was posthumously awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. But Fryar, who was from Denver, was never issued an official marker from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He had no living relatives to do so.

On Sunday, the day before Memorial Day and 74 years after his death, the group gathered to place a marker that had been commissioned by the Medal of Honor Society. Fryar’s body was never recovered from the islands. Instead, the marker was placed at the foot of his parents’ graves, which had both been covered with large bouquets of flowers.

The small group gathered under a tent. American Legion members from Post No. 161 stood in a line to the side. Three more Legion members from Post. No. 1 watched from the road, alert with M1 Garand semi-automatic rifles in hand. Near them stood a bugle player.

A man in a suit walked forward and began to sing an operatic National Anthem. Sounds of distant bagpipes carried over the gravestones, settling under the man’s tenor voice.

Mike Skolaut, general manager of Olinger Crown Hill, stepped forward to tell Fryar’s story.

At 19 years old, Fryar became a private in the U.S. Army. He finished his three years of service and returned to Colorado. Before long, he enlisted with the Marine Corps, serving for four years before returning home once again.

As WWII started in December 1941, Fryar re-enlisted in the Army. Three years later, on Dec. 8, he was in the Philippines with Company E, 511th Parachute Infantry, 11th Airborne Division. His battalion was fighting a strongly entrenched group of Japanese soldiers. The battalion was attempting to withdraw and Fryar’s company was ordered to cover them.

As Fryar held back the Japanese soldiers, he spotted soldiers moving to outflank his company. He retreated to higher ground and opened fire, killing 27 Japanese soldiers. Wounded in the process, Fryar’s actions held off the Japanese platoon.

Fryar went to return to the rest of his platoon and came across another wounded soldier. He grabbed the man and later ran into two others from his platoon, including the platoon’s leader.

As the four made their way back, Fryar saw a Japanese sniper take aim at the leader. He threw his body in front of the gunfire, receiving the full burst. Severely wounded, Fryar threw a hand grenade, killing the sniper. He died shortly after.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 9, 1945.

Skolaut finished the story and returned to the crowd. Cemetery staff stepped forward and raised Fryar’s marker before lowering it into position. The group stood watching. From the road, the three Legion members raised their guns, firing three times. The bugle player raised the instrument to his lips and began to play Taps.

Two flags — one an American flag and the other indicating that he was a Medal of Honor recipient — were placed next to a U.S. veteran grave marker. A sole bagpipe player who was standing silently behind the crowd began to play. “Amazing Grace” swept over the small crowd.

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After finishing, the small crowd moved to join others in front of the cemetery’s Tower of Memories for a Veterans Remembrance Service. Fryar’s story was told once more for a larger crowd that was a mix of young children and men wearing veteran hats.

During the service, slightly more than a hundred names were called, each representing a veteran who had been buried at the cemetery since last May. A 1,000-pound bronze bell from the Honor Bell Foundation was rung. Seven tolls each seven seconds apart.

Then, a horse carriage pulling an empty, flag-draped casket slowly took off down the cemetery’s flag-covered lane.

Budget battle brews as Trump threatens another shutdown

1 hour 45 min ago

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has warned Congress that he will never sign another foot-tall, $1 trillion-plus government-wide spending bill like the one he did in March. His message to lawmakers in both parties: Get your act together before the next budget lands on my desk.

After a brief government shutdown earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans now agree on the need for budgeting day-to-day operations of government by the old-fashioned way. That means weeks of open debate and amendments that empower rank-and-file lawmakers, rather than concentrating power in the hands of a few leaders meeting in secret.

But Capitol Hill’s dysfunction is so pervasive that even the most optimistic predictions are for only a handful of the 12 annual spending bills to make it into law by Oct. 1, the start of the new budget year. The rest may get bundled together into a single, massive measure yet again.

The worst-case scenario? A government shutdown just a month before Election Day, Nov. 6, as Republicans and Democrats fight for control of the House and possibly the Senate. Trump is agitating for more money for his long-promised border wall with Mexico. So far, he has been frustrated by limited success on that front.

“We need the wall. We’re going to have it all. And again, that wall has started. We got $1.6 billion. We come up again (in) September,” Trump said in a campaign-style event in Michigan last month. “If we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country because we need border security.”

At stake is the funding for daily operations of government agencies. A budget deal this year reversed spending cuts that affected military readiness and put a crimp on domestic agencies. A $1.3 trillion spending bill swept through Congress in March, though Trump entertained last-minute second thoughts about the measure and promised he would not sign a repeat.

The demise of the annual appropriations process took root after Republicans took over the House in 2011 and is part of a broader breakdown on Capitol Hill. The yearly bills need bipartisan support to advance, which has grated on tea party lawmakers. GOP leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his predecessor as speaker, Ohio Republican John Boehner, have preferred to focus on other priorities.

Ryan did throw his weight behind a two-year budget agreement this year that set an overall spending limit of $1.3 trillion for both 2018 and 2019, citing a need to boost the Pentagon.

That, in theory, makes it easier to get the appropriations process back on track. But in the GOP-controlled House, where Democratic votes are generally needed to pass the bills, Democrats are complaining that Republicans have shortchanged domestic agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.

That’s not the case in the Senate, where the new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Alabama Republican Richard Shelby, is determined to get the system working again. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York is on board, as is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., himself a decades-long veteran of that powerful committee.

“We want this to work,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who criticized the GOP-controlled House for continuing to pack legislation with “poison pills.”

Obstacles remain, however.

For starters, floor debates could lead to votes on contentious issues such as immigration, the border wall, gun control and others that some lawmakers might hope to avoid.

Democrats are wary of Republicans trying to jam through the Pentagon spending bill before dealing with some agencies.

And Trump could blow up the whole effort at any time.

Trump is prone to threatening government shutdowns on Twitter or when he riffs in public, and then backing off when bills are delivered to him.

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In the House, a familiar problem awaits.

Many conservative Republicans won’t vote for some bills because they think they spend too much money. That means Democratic votes are a must. But many Democrats are upset over unrelated policy add-ons pushed by the GOP, and they won’t vote for the spending bills unless those provisions are removed, which usually doesn’t happen until end-stage talks.

At the same time, House GOP leaders are distracted by disputes over immigration, and they haven’t made the appropriations bills a priority.

An effort led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to cut or “rescind” $15 billion in unspent money has run into greater opposition than anticipated. Meantime, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., is unpopular with some House conservatives, who cite his votes against a recent farm bill and against last year’s tax cut measure, and that may hamper his effectiveness.

German Marquez throws a second straight gem, Rockies blast their way to series win over Cincinnati

2 hours 17 min ago

After putting together the best outing of his young career last week in Los Angeles, German Marquez turned in another gem — and the Rockies finally teed off in old-school Coors Field fashion — as Colorado beat the Reds 8-2 on Sunday to win the three-game series.

Marquez turned in his second consecutive seven-inning, one-run outing, with his lone scoring damage coming via a Scooter Gennett RBI double in the first.

“The confidence carried over (from L.A.),” Marquez said. “I commanded my fastball pretty well, and I combined that with my breaking pitches, which I was throwing in the zone as well.”

Beyond that first inning — one in which Marquez has struggled as a whole this season, posting an 11.45 ERA — the right-hander diced, allowing just three more hits and no more runs while striking out six.

“I feed off the fact that I’m getting deep into the games — getting stronger, more adrenaline, and trying to finish up what I started,” Marquez said.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s lineup popped off multiple times against Reds starter Matt Harvey. First it was by way of two response homers in the bottom of the first, when David Dahl’s solo shot was followed a few batters later by Carlos Gonzalez’s monstrous two-run, 461-foot homer to the upper deck of right field that made it 3-1 Rockies.

And as Marquez settled in, the Rockies padded their lead.

In the sixth, Charlie Blackmon singled in Tony Wolters, and then Nolan Arenado — who tweaked his right groin during his third-inning at-bat — put any injury fears to rest with a 449-foot homer to center that extended the advantage to 6-1.

“As the game went on, it didn’t get any worse,” Arenado said. “It was just there, and I just stayed in because the game was close. I knew I could pull through it. It wasn’t anything sharp, so it wasn’t bad.”

Ian Desmond got in on the act as well with his two-run homer in the eighth that made it 8-1, the ninth dinger of the season for the first baseman.

“Every single guy contributing is what a good lineup wants to accomplish,” manager Bud Black said. “From Marquez’s sacrifice bunt that was in front of Charlie’s base hit that got us to 4-1, to Tony (Wolters) having some good at-bats, Desmond hitting a big fly and CarGo also having a big day (at 4-for-4).”

The Rockies bullpen did the rest after Marquez was pulled. Mike Dunn loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth with two walks and a hit but was able to get a strikeout before Adam Ottavino came on and forced an inning-ending double play to escape the jam.

Right-hander Brooks Pounders tried to polish off the win in the ninth, but the Reds got a run back and forced a Wade Davis appearance with one out and the bases loaded. Davis’ first pitch was lined right back to him, and he caught it and tossed to third for the game-ending double play.

Looking ahead Mitchell Layton, Getty ImagesChad Bettis #35 of the Colorado Rockies pitcher in the first inning during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Giants LHP Andrew Suarez (1-4, 5.68 ERA) at Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (4-1, 3.30), 5 p.m., ATTRM, ESPN; 850 AM

Rookie Suarez has never faced the Rockies, so it will be up to Colorado’s film study to figure out the southpaw who has been inconsistent through the first six starts of his major-league career. Most recently, Suarez was hit for five runs in four innings in a loss to the Astros last week. For the Rockies, Bettis has seen plenty of the Giants, and he’ll need to be most careful with first baseman Brandon Belt (.419 average, a homer, four RBIs in 19 at-bats). Bettis is coming off a decent performance against the Dodgers at Los Angeles, turning in five innings of two-run ball, although the right-hander hasn’t earned a win since May 5 in New York.

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Tuesday: Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-3, 6.23 ERA) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (4-5, 3.28), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM

Wednesday: Giants LHP Derek Holland (2-6, 4.73) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (5-6, 5.40), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM

Thursday: Off

Friday: Dodgers LHP Alex Wood (1-4, 3.75) at Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (3-1, 4.72), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM

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Flashing yellow lights leave some Boulder drivers seeing red

2 hours 22 min ago

If you drive around Boulder often enough, you have been at a left turn, looking at a yellow flashing arrow and waiting for your chance.

And now, drivers around the county are likely to start seeing more of these lights as well, as the yellow flashing arrow has replaced a green circle as the preferred method of signaling a driver can make a left turn only if the coast is clear.

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Joe Paulson, a transportation engineer for Boulder who works with signals and lighting, said the city now has the yellow flashing lights at 96 different approaches at 40 of the 141 signaled intersections within the city.

Paulson said that Boulder was one of the first cities in 2004 to adopt the flashing lights as a way of signaling a driver must yield on a left turn rather than a green circle after federal studies showed the yellow arrow was safer.

“It’s a more intuitive display,” Paulson said. “The circular green, which has been in place for decades, means yield on a left turn, but people inherently interpret green as ‘go.’ They think that means left turn can go now, we don’t have to yield but it’s a mistake and a dangerous one.

Read the full story at

Soldiers recall carnage of Alaska WWII Battle of Attu 75 years later

2 hours 27 min ago

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — William Roy Dover’s memory of the World War II battle is as sharp as it was 75 years ago, even though it’s been long forgotten by most everyone else.

His first sergeant rousted him from his pup tent around 2 a.m. when word came the Japanese were attacking and had maybe even gotten behind the American front line, on a desolate, unforgiving slab of an occupied island in the North Pacific.

“He was shouting, ‘Get up! Get out!'” Dover said.

Dover and most of the American soldiers rushed to an embankment on what became known as Engineer Hill, the last gasp of the Japanese during the Battle of Attu, fought 75 years ago this month on Attu Island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain.

“I had two friends that were too slow to get out,” the 95-year-old Alabama farmer recalled. “They both got bayonetted in their pup tents.”

Joseph Sasser, then a skinny 20-year-old from Cartharge, Mississippi, also found himself perched against the berm on Engineer Hill when a captain with a rifle took up a position about 10 feet (3 meters) away.

“I noticed about after 30 minutes or so, he was awfully quiet,” Sasser said. “We checked to see if he had a pulse and if he was alive, and he was not.

“We didn’t even know he had been shot,” said Sasser, also 95.

American forces reclaimed remote Attu Island on May 30, 1943, after a 19-day campaign that is known as World War II’s forgotten battle. Much of the fighting was hand-to-hand, waged in dense fog and winds of up to 120 mph (193 kph).

The battle for the Aleutian island was one of the deadliest in the Pacific in terms of the percentage of troops killed. Nearly all the Japanese forces, estimated at about 2,500 soldiers, died with only 28 survivors. About 550 or so U.S. soldiers were killed.

American forces, many poorly outfitted for Alaska weather and trained in California for desert combat, recaptured Attu 11 months after the Japanese took it and a nearby island, Kiska. It was the only WWII battle fought on North American soil.

The Japanese staged a last-ditch, desperate offensive May 29 at Engineer Hill.

“Japanese soldiers surprise American forces on Attu with a fanatical charge out of the mountains,” recounts an Associated Press chronology of WWII events in 1943. “Savage fighting rages throughout the day and into the following night.

About 200 Japanese soldiers died in the assault, and the remaining 500 or so held grenades to their bellies and pulled the pins. It was the first official case of “gyokusai,” a Japanese euphemism for annihilation or mass suicide in the name of Emperor Hirohito, which increasingly occurred in other Japanese battlefields.

Tomimatsu Takahashi told Japanese public television network NHK in 2010 he was being treated for a bullet wound when the order for the final charge came. “I was going to die, I thought,” he said.

But as he headed out to fight, he collapsed, likely because he hadn’t eaten in days. He was captured and sent to several mainland POW camps — including in Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago — before he returned home to Japan’s Iwate prefecture in 1947.

His family already had a funeral and grave for him.

“I felt so relieved to be home,” he said. “But I never thought I was lucky to be alive. I thought I survived because I was not lucky. I felt I was not supposed to come back, because those who went to war were not supposed to come back, and that’s what we were taught.”

After the battle, Dover said things went back to normal for the American soldiers — except one thing: “Somebody had to bury those Japanese.”

During the war, the U.S. Army buried the Japanese soldiers’ bodies with care, built a memorial, set up a grave post and paid respects to the spirits, said Nobuyuki Yamazaki, whose grandfather died on Attu.

Yamazaki was among a delegation of Japanese soldiers’ descendants who attended a 75th anniversary celebration this month in Anchorage. The families have formally petitioned the Japanese government to have the remains returned, Anchorage television station KTVA reported.

“Japanese people find great comfort when the remains of the Japanese are buried in our homeland,” Yamazaki said.

The Aleut people living on Attu Island also suffered losses, becoming the only North American community to be imprisoned in Japan during the war, according to the book “Attu: The Forgotten Battle,” by John Haile Cloe.

While Kiska was unpopulated, about 45 Aleuts lived on Attu Island. When Japanese forces invaded, the Aleuts were captured and sent to Japan’s Hokkaido Island, where about half died, most from malnutrition or starvation.

The survivors never returned to Attu. The Army said it would be too expensive to rebuild their village, and they were relocated after the war.

The battle over Attu proved to be unimportant to the rest of the war, possibly why it’s forgotten today. However, American planes did use the island to bomb the northernmost reaches of Japan. And author and historian Cloe, who died in 2016, told the AP in 1993 that the Army learned much about amphibious landings and Japanese tactics from the battle.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now owns Attu Island, which is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

Seventy-five years later, 102-year-old Allan Seroll of Massachusetts, who worked in communications including Morse code for the Army Signal Corps, still carries the burden of the Battle of Attu.

“I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can’t go back to sleep,” Seroll told KTVA. “That’s what this has done to me. That’s how much it affected me and still does.”

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

Will Power wins Indianapolis 500, No. 17 for car owner Roger Penske

2 hours 58 min ago

INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power can win anything now, even the Indianapolis 500, an intimidating race on an oval he hated because it marginalized his talent.

He drives for Roger Penske and nothing matters more to the boss than winning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So Power worked to change his attitude, improve his performance on ovals and respect the track.

It got Power into the most storied winner’s circle in history Sunday when he won the Indy 500 to give Penske a 17th victory in “The Great American Race.” Power actually swept the month of May at Indy after winning on the road course two weeks ago and the 37-year-old Australian now has 34 wins in IndyCar, tying him with Al Unser Jr. for most on the career list.

“I can’t believe it!” he screamed in the winner’s circle. “I can’t believe it.”

Penske arrived in Indy with four fast Chevrolets, and an engine builder determined to snap Honda’s two-race Indy 500 winning streak. The Chevys were the fastest cars in the field and Team Penske had four strong chances to win.

As Power held off pole winner Ed Carpenter to win his first Indy 500, the 81-year-old Penske pumped his fist in the air and clapped for his driver. Penske was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this month, and had a shot at closing Sunday with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 in North Carolina.

“He won this race today because he was the best,” Penske said.

In the winner’s circle, Power could not contain his glee. He screamed to wife, Liz, took a sip of the traditional milk, then dumped the rest over his head and around his crew. Liz Power reached for the empty milk bottle, then pointed out to her husband that he’d sprayed milk all over one of the Indy 500 princesses. He apologized, then screamed some more.

Splashing the princess was the only wrong move Power made all day during an event that saw many of IndyCar’s top drivers make costly mistakes. James Hinchcliffe, a championship contender, failed to make the race at all. Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais and Danica Patrick were among those who crashed in single-car spins. Defending race winner Takuma Sato was also knocked out when he ran into the back of a slower car.

Power led 59 laps but his final pit stop dropped him to fourth, behind three cars that were trying to win on fuel mileage. Kanaan’s crash with 12 laps remaining set up a final restart with Oriol Servia out front. He didn’t get a great restart and was passed by Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey. But all three needed enough gas to get to the finish line, and it was Power who was frantically chasing them down.

Wilson and Harvey both ducked onto pit lane for gas, giving Power the lead with four laps remaining. He knew he had it won when he took the white flag all alone, and spent the final lap yelling to himself in joy as he drove away from the field.

“I was wondering if I would ever win it and thoughts when through my mind during the month, my career,” he said. “I’ve had so many wins, so many poles. Everyone talks about the 500 and I just couldn’t imagine winning a race in front of a crowd like this, this many people. It’s just amazing.”

Carpenter was second in a Chevy and noted just how much Power used to hate the speedway.

“He hated ovals and now he loves them,” he said. “He and I love racing together. Maybe someday he’ll race for me. I don’t know if we have a tampering rule in IndyCar, but congrats Will.”

Scott Dixon used strategy and stretched his fuel to finish third and was followed by Alexander Rossi, who drove from 32nd to fourth and made some of the most spectacular moves in the race. Rossi had no choice: It was difficult to pass in the 2018 car on a day that fell just 2 degrees short — it was 91 degrees — of being the hottest 500 in history.

The conditions created a slick, 2 ½-mile track, and new cars with less downforce proved to be a handful for even the most experienced of drivers.

Castroneves’ bid to win a record-tying fourth 500 ended when he spun exiting Turn 4. The popular Brazilian has been chasing Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser Sr. in the record books and even though Penske moved him to sports cars this year, Castroneves was given a seat for Indy.

Penske said if Castroneves won a fourth, he’d get a chance at a fifth, but Castroneves’ future in the race is in limbo. He savored his final moments Sunday and instead of taking an ambulance ride to the care center, he made the long walk down pit lane, waving to fans on the way.

“Please Roger, I’ve got to go back,” he said into a television camera.

Patrick was completing the “Danica Double” after wrecking out at the Daytona 500. She decided long ago that the race that made her famous would be her last, and while she called the outcome disappointing, she also expressed appreciation for all that Indianapolis had given her.

“Yeah, it’s an entire career,” she said, “but what really launched it was this. It’s both of them. I had a lot of good fortune here and did still have some this month. It just didn’t come today.”

Bourdais crashed a year after missing the race because of a harrowing, high-speed accident during qualifying. Bourdais had led at least one lap in every race this season, and led for the first time in his career at Indianapolis.

Honda didn’t win the race but did manage to put six of its cars in the top 10. Kanaan led at least one lap in his 14th Indy 500 to break a record he had shared with four-time race winner A.J. Foyt.

More LGBTQ issues loom as Supreme Court justices near wedding cake decision

4 hours 7 min ago

WASHINGTON — A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision in the case of a Colorado baker who would not create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Courts are engaged in two broad types of cases on this issue, weighing whether sex discrimination laws apply to LGBT people and also whether businesses can assert religious objections to avoid complying with anti-discrimination measures in serving customers, hiring and firing employees, providing health care and placing children with foster or adoptive parents.

The outcome of baker Jack Phillips’ fight at the Supreme Court could indicate how willing the justices are to carve out exceptions to anti-discrimination laws; that’s something the court has refused to do in the areas of race and sex.

The result was hard to predict based on arguments in December. But however the justices rule, it won’t be their last word on the topic.

Religious conservatives have gotten a big boost from the Trump administration, which has taken a more restrictive view of LGBT rights and intervened on their side in several cases, including Phillips’.

“There is a constellation of hugely significant cases that are likely to be heard by the court in the near future and those are going to significantly shape the legal landscape going forward,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Several legal disputes are pending over wedding services, similar to the Phillips case. Video producers, graphic artists and florists are among business owners who say they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds and don’t want to participate in same-sex weddings. They live in the 21 states that have anti-discrimination laws that specifically include gay and lesbian people.

In California and Texas, courts are dealing with lawsuits over the refusal of hospitals, citing religious beliefs, to perform hysterectomies on people transitioning from female to male. In Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the state’s practice of allowing faith-based child placement agencies to reject same-sex couples.

Advocates of both sides see the essence of these cases in starkly different terms.

“What the religious right is asking for is a new rule specific to same-sex couples that would not only affect same-sex couples but also carve a hole in nondiscrimination laws that could affect all communities,” said Camilla Taylor, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, which supports civil rights for LGBT people.

Jim Campbell of the Christian public interest law firm Alliance Defending Freedom said the cases will determine whether “people like Jack Phillips who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman, that they too have a legitimate place in public life. Or does he have to hide or ignore those beliefs when he’s participating in the public square?” ADF represents Phillips at the Supreme Court.

The other category of cases concerns protections for LGBT people under civil rights law. One case expected to reach the court this summer involves a Michigan funeral home that fired an employee who disclosed that she was transitioning from male to female and dressed as a woman.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the firing constituted sex discrimination under federal civil rights law. That court is one of several that have applied anti-sex discrimination provisions to transgender people, but the Supreme Court has yet to take up a case.

The funeral home argues in part that Congress was not thinking about transgender people when it included sex discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A trial judge had ruled for the funeral home, saying it was entitled to a religious exemption from the civil rights law.

“Congress has not weighed in to say sex includes gender identity. We should certainly make sure that’s a conscious choice of Congress and not just the overexpansion of the law by courts,” Campbell said. ADF also represents the funeral home.

In just the past week, two federal courts ruled in favor of transgender students who want to use school facilities that correspond to their sexual identity. Those cases turn on whether the prohibition on sex discrimination in education applies to transgender people. Appeals in both cases are possible.

In the past 13 months, federal appeals courts in Chicago and New York also have ruled that gay and lesbian employees are entitled to protection from discrimination under Title VII. Those courts overruled earlier decisions. Title VII does not specifically mention sexual orientation, but the courts said it was covered under the ban on sex bias.

The Obama administration had supported treating LGBT discrimination claims as sex discrimination, but the Trump administration has changed course. In the New York case, for instance, the Trump administration filed a legal brief arguing that Title VII was not intended to provide protections to gay workers. It also withdrew Obama-era guidance to educators to treat claims of transgender students as sex discrimination.

There is no appeal pending or expected on the sexual orientation issue, and there is no guarantee that the court will take up the funeral home’s appeal over transgender discrimination.

The trend in the lower courts has been in favor of extending civil rights protections to LGBT employees and students. Their prospects at the Supreme Court may be harder to discern, not least because it’s unclear whether the court’s composition will change soon.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, has been the subject of retirement speculation, though he has not indicated he is planning to retire. When Justice Stephen Breyer turns 80 in August, he will join Kennedy and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, as octogenarians on the bench.

If President Donald Trump were to replace any of those justices, the court probably would be much less receptive to LGBT rights. Even the landmark gay marriage ruling in 2015 that Kennedy wrote was a 5-4 decision.

“We’re very concerned about the composition of the federal bench. Under the Trump administration, we’ve seen a number of federal nominees who have been ideologues, who have taken positions about the very right to exist of LGBT people that is simply inconsistent with fitness to serve as a federal judge,” Taylor of Lambda Legal said.

The ADF’s Campbell said even with the current justices, he holds out some hope that the court would not extend anti-discrimination protections. “Justice Kennedy has undoubtedly been the person who has decided the major LGBT cases, but to my knowledge he hasn’t weighed in some of these other issues,” he said.

Tornado warning issued for northeastern Plains on Sunday afternoon

4 hours 18 min ago

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for parts of the northeastern Plains shortly before 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The warning encompasses small towns in Weld County, including Roggen and Prospect Valley. Roughly 1,244 people and four schools are at risk, according to NWS. On top of the tornado, NWS also warned of penny-sized hail.

The warning area has steadily been heading north.

Tornado Warning continues for Prospect Valley CO, Roggen CO until 2:15 PM MDT

— NWS Tornado (@NWStornado) May 27, 2018

George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine after experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue

4 hours 46 min ago

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush was hospitalized Sunday in Maine after he experienced low blood pressure and fatigue, a spokesman said.

Just after 2 p.m., Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the 93-year-old Bush, said he was awake, alert and not in any discomfort. He said Bush would spend at least a few days in the hospital for observation.

Bush was taken to Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford. A spokeswoman said Sunday all information would be released by the Bush family.

Bush arrived in Maine for the summer May 20. Coming about a month after the death of his wife, Barbara, of 73 years, the family said the 41st president was eager to return to the family compound on Walker’s Point. He has visited every summer since childhood, the only exception being the years of his World War II service.

On Saturday, Bush attended a pancake breakfast at an American Legion post in Kennebunkport. He had been scheduled to attend a Memorial Day parade in the town Monday.

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Bush, who has a form of Parkinson’s disease and a history of pneumonia and other infections, was hospitalized in Houston on April 22, the day after his wife’s funeral, for an infection. He remained hospitalized for 13 days.

Bush uses a wheelchair and an electric scooter for mobility. He has been hospitalized several times in recent years for respiratory problems.

Rockies reliever Chris Rusin’s continued struggles center around command, too little use of the changeup

5 hours 30 min ago

By surrendering two runs on two hits during Saturday’s seventh inning — while recording no outs and being pegged with the loss in a 6-5 setback to Cincinnati — Rockies reliever Chris Rusin‘s struggles continue to haunt Colorado.

“His control and command is just a little bit off,” manager Bud Black said. “The stuff is reading out fine as far as velocities, as far as movement to his breaking pitches — it’s just the location.”

In May alone, Rusin has yielded runs in six of this seven appearances while racking up a 10.80 ERA. His fWAR is -0.3, worst among all Colorado pitchers, while opposing batters are making contact with 87.7 percent of his pitches in the zone.

Rusin, who was sidelined briefly with a right intercostal muscle strain that landed him on the 10-day disabled list April 23, said he had never been in a slump this bad since breaking into the majors with the Chicago Cubs in 2012.

“It’s some grinding right now, and all I can do is keep pounding the strike zone and have confidence in my stuff,” Rusin said. “Eventually, I’ll break out of this bad streak that I’m on.”

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Most specifically, however, Rusin said he must focus on leveraging better sinker and cutter command in order to work ahead of hitters and deploy his changeup more frequently.

It’s a pitch he’s recently tinkered with the finger pressure on, and believes it can help turn around the fortunes of his season.

Rusin has only thrown his changeup 14.5 percent of the time, down significantly from last season (26.9 percent) and the lowest rate for the pitch since the left-hander signed with Colorado in 2015.

“I just haven’t been able to find my changeup at all this year,” Rusin said. “I’ve been working on it every day, and it’s slowly getting better. I feel like I fixed it a couple days ago — I just haven’t had a chance to use it in a game yet.”

Rockies’ DJ LeMahieu, who sprayed balls all over the yard during Sunday batting practice, “pretty close” to returning

6 hours 34 min ago

DJ LeMahieu took pregame batting practice for the second consecutive day before the Rockies’ rubber match against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, spraying balls all over the yard — and putting a couple in the seats — while also taking groundballs at second base.

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LeMahieu said he’s “pretty close” to returning from his injury, a small fracture to a bone in his left thumb, which landed him on the 10-day disabled list May 14.

“The day after (the injury), I was like, ‘This thing’s not going to get better for two months,’ ” LeMahieu said. “Then I went to see the hand doc, and he said to stay off it for a week and it would feel better. That’s what’s happened.”

Ryan McMahon got his second straight start at second base Sunday.  LeMahieu wore a small pad under his glove during his defensive work and said he’s still “playing with different stuff” in terms of protection to his thumb in the field and at the plate upon his return.

“I feel better every day,” LeMahieu said. “Taking BP the last couple days felt good, so I’m just trying to do everything I can to be ready as quick as I can.”

Following the Rockies’ 8-2 win over the Reds on Sunday, manager Bud Black hinted LeMahieu’s return might come early this week.

“He’s going to do a lot of the same tomorrow, weather-permitting,” Black said. “He’s going to hit, take grounders, run the bases — he’s going to have a good hard day practicing baseball. And then maybe there will be some more news for you on Tuesday.”

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Murder suspect arrested in connection with DCPA parking garage death

9 hours 30 min ago

Police in Denver have arrested a suspect believed to be responsible for the murder of a man whose body was left on the fourth level of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts parking garage early Friday morning.

Caleb Schroeder, 23, is being held on first-degree murder and aggravated robbery charges, the Denver Police Department said Saturday afternoon.

Court records show Schroeder has been arrested previously for robbery, assault, possession, and damaging business property.

Electricians parking at the Denver Performing Arts Complex garage discovered the body Friday morning. As one of them was backing into a space at 5:40 a.m., he turned around and saw the body.

#DPD UPDATE: A suspect has been identified and arrested in connection with this homicide. Caleb Schroeder (DOB 12/08/94) is being held for 1st degree murder and aggravated robbery.

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) May 26, 2018

Read the full story at

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Another week of hot temperatures and storms is ahead in the metro area

9 hours 45 min ago

The metro area is expected to be warm again on Sunday, setting the pace for the rest of the week.

The weekend should end with a high in the low 90s as storms stay north and east of Denver, National Weather Service meteorologist Russell Danielson said.

Several severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for northeastern Colorado Sunday, threatening quarter-size hail and 60 mph wind gusts. The storms are expected to pull into the Denver urban corridor Monday, bringing with them a 30 to 40 percent chance of storms. The high is expected to hang around 75 degrees, he said.

Tuesday has a 30 percent chance of storms and a high that should be around 78 degrees, Danielson said. There’s a possibility for more showers Wednesday when the high is expected to be around 84 degrees.

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Temperatures should warm back up into the lower 90s on Thursday and Friday, which should both be sunny days, he said.

So far this year the metro area has seen 4.5 inches of rain, which is .5 inches below normal, Danielson said.

Shooting in Aurora kills one and injures three early Sunday

11 hours 13 min ago

A shooting early Sunday in Aurora killed a man and left three injured, according to a statement from the Aurora Police Department.

The shooting was reported at roughly 2:10 a.m. in the area of East 6th Avenue and North Helena Street.

All four adults were taken to local hospitals where one of them was later pronounced dead.

Police say no one is in custody in connection with the shooting. Detectives are still trying to determine what led up to the shooting.

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Police ask anyone with information to contact MCU Detective Alton Reed at 303-739-6068. Annonymous tips that can be eligible for cash of up to $2,000 can be given to Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.

The “street fighter” vs. the law professor: Democrats running for Colorado attorney general are aligned on the issues — but not on how to solve them

12 hours 29 min ago

The two Democrats facing off for a chance to become Colorado’s next attorney general were quick to skewer the state’s contentious Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights at a recent Denver candidate forum.

They were also quick to disagree on what to do about it.

State Rep. Joe Salazar, of Thornton, said he wants to repeal the amendment to the Colorado Constitution that requires voters to approve any tax increase in the state. Phil Weiser, a former Obama administration official and former University of Colorado law school dean, said he would go to the voters in the hopes of reforming TABOR.

“I will use my discretion not to defend TABOR — to let it fall in the courts,” Salazar said. “That’s the fastest way to get rid of it.”

“I don’t believe I can abandon an argument in favor of a constitutional amendment,” Weiser said. “Whether it’s on marijuana or on TABOR, I’ve got to defend it.”

On June 26, primary election voters will choose between two drastically different attorney general candidates with disparate backgrounds. While they agree on a long list of topics, from calls for more gun control to their distaste for President Donald Trump, they often diverge on what constitutes the best course of action.

Salazar is a three-term state representative and community activist with backing from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has called himself a “street fighter” and tossed barbs at Weiser to undermine his credentials. Weiser is a pun-prone law professor with a broad fundraising base but little name recognition and who says he is committed, above all, to enforcing the law.

“The Democrats are dramatically different,” said Floyd Cirulli, an independent political analyst in Denver. “A very mainstream, respected attorney-dean in Mr. Weiser versus a sort of insurgent legislator coming from the deep liberal wing of the party in terms of a lot of his positions and a lot of his support. It’s sort of the classic choice we are seeing in primaries across the country in the Democratic Party.”

He added: “I think it’s a competitive race.”

  • Justin Edmonds, Special to the Denver Post

    State Rep. Joe Salazar, Democratic candidate for Colorado attorney general, speaks during the Democratic State Assembly at 1STBANK Center on April 14, 2018 in Broomfield.

  • Justin Edmonds, Special to the Denver Post

    Phil Weiser, Democratic candidate for attorney general, speaks during the Democratic State Assembly at 1STBANK Center on April 14, 2018 in Broomfield.

Show Caption of

Expand The Trump factor

Trump’s election drove Salazar’s and Weiser’s decisions to jump into the contest.

“It was the catalyzing reason,” said Weiser, a first-time candidate. “The legal term is: It was the ‘but for’ cause. But for Trump getting elected, I would not be running for attorney general.”

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“I thought this was the time, if we ever needed a street fighter, this is the time that we needed one in the office of attorney general,” Salazar said.

Both candidates have vowed, if elected, to join other Democratic attorneys general across the U.S. who have sued to halt Trump administration actions. They include the president’s attempts to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and his ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries.

Weiser appears to be campaigning on this pushback more than Salazar, launching a more than $500,000 TV ad buy outlining how he wants to fight the Trump administration. (It features former Colorado Attorney General and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, a fellow Democrat who has endorsed Weiser.)

“You know who has stood up? State attorneys general,” Weiser told voters during a recent campaign stop. “Not from Colorado, but from other states. We need an attorney general here in Colorado who is strong enough to stand up for our values.”

Salazar agrees that Colorado needs to join challenges to the Trump administration, but he said there are issues at home that need to be addressed, too.

“This attorney general’s office under the direction of Cynthia Coffman has left an awful lot on the table,” he said. “So, there is no one priority.”

Weiser has called Coffman — Colorado’s current Republican attorney general, who sued the Obama administration several times over policies she disagreed with — “complicit” with Trump.

On the issues

Weiser and Salazar also want to protect Colorado municipalities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities — so-called sanctuary cities that the Trump administration and other conservatives say have enacted policies to protect people living in the U.S. illegally.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostColorado’s current attorney general, Republican Cynthia Coffman, at the GOP state assembly in April. She left her post to make a failed bid for governor.

“The question here is what can an attorney general do? And the answer is defend the constitutional rights of cities to do that,” Weiser said.

Salazar said he would go a step further by taking legal action against local governments in Colorado that assist immigration officials.

“I will protect our undocumented families as well as our citizen families here in the state of Colorado from being terrorized by the Trump administration,” Salazar said. “If that means that I have to sue local governments as well as the state government, … I will do that.”

Salazar, who has spoken out against laws targeting the homeless, said he would also consider suing “the hell out of” cities — such as Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder — over their policies toward transients.

“I’m putting (them) on blast that when I become attorney general, we better sit down and talk with each other about their policies,” said Salazar, who tried and failed several times to pass legislation allowing homeless to occupy public spaces and not face arrest.

Weiser and Salazar have a similar disconnect on the death penalty, which they are both against.

The Colorado attorney general’s office is responsible for defending the state’s capital punishment laws in legal challenges — and Weiser says he would fulfill that duty.

“That’s part of enforcement of the law — if we have the death penalty, I would carry out the role of the office,” Weiser said.

But Salazar said he’s “not so certain that I would defend” it.

On oil and gas, an industry the current attorney general has supported, Salazar and Weiser each blasted Coffman’s decision to sue Boulder County last year over its decision to block drilling.

Salazar and Weiser also agree on a ruling that industry regulators have to take into account public health and the environment before issuing new drilling permits. Both say they would withdraw the state’s Colorado Supreme Court appeal of what’s known as the “Martinez case,” with Salazar saying he’d take action during his first hours in office.

Where the two Democrats in the Colorado attorney general’s race primary stand on the issues

A look at where Phil Weiser and state Rep. Joe Salazar stand on some of the most pressing issues facing Colorado. The pair face off in the June 26 primary for a chance to become Colorado’s next attorney general.

Salazar’s barbs

Another factor coming into play in the race is attacks from Salazar, who is trying to frame Weiser as inexperienced — calling him a “paper tiger” — and out of touch with Coloradans’ needs.

“He doesn’t practice in Colorado courts, and he never has,” Salazar said. “I know that he clerked for (U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Ruth Bader Ginsburg and that’s a really pretty résumé that he has and that he worked for the Obama administration — it has nothing to do with Colorado actually. I actually practice in our Colorado courts.”

Weiser has committed to abstaining from attacking Salazar. (He is committed to voting for whomever the Democratic nominee is come November. Salazar says he will vote for the Democratic nominee, but that Weiser would have to earn his endorsement.)

Things got especially testy during a May 19 candidate forum in Denver when Salazar claimed that Weiser had been ignoring marginalized communities.

“In our communities of color, my friend here has been absent for years,” said Salazar, who has Latino and American Indian roots. “He’s never been around. … If I don’t see you out in our communities of color, then I’m not going to be there to give my endorsement or my support.”

Weiser rejected Salazar’s criticisms.

“During my life, I have been engaged in communities of color,” he said. “The Colorado Hispanic Bar Association did not honor me because I was not engaged. I did not work with the Sam Cary Bar Association to bring two African-American judges here to Colorado, who are my friends, because I was not engaged.”

Weiser added: “Winning teams fight the competition; losing teams fight themselves.”

Primary ballots will be mailed out June 4. The Democratic primary winner will face 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, the Republican nominee, in November.

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Education of Kyle Freeland turning him into Rockies’ most valuable pitcher

12 hours 29 min ago

Jon Gray possesses more pure firepower and gets more strikeouts, while Chad Bettis pitches with a veteran’s wisdom. But a case can be made that Kyle Freeland could soon emerge as the Rockies’ most successful starting pitcher.

A cursory look at Freeland’s numbers might not suggest that. The left-hander is 4-5 with a 3.28 ERA over 10 starts. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Freeland:

— Has been Colorado’s best starter at Coors Field, going 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in three starts.

— Has logged more innings (60 ⅓) than any pitcher on the staff and has pitched into the seventh inning in six consecutive games.

— Has a .655 OPS against him, the lowest of any Rockies starter.

But it’s more than raw statistics that suggest that Freeland, the 25-year-old Denver native, will evolve into something special. Freeland is eminently teachable and a quick learner. Plus, he’s made adjustments, such as altering his delivery, that continue to pay off.

“Kyle’s a good student,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He listens to what the coaches, and credible people with experience, tell him. They can see some things in the future that Kyle must do to be successful. Kyle’s open to that. For Kyle’s part, there is foresight that lets him believe his (coaches) are probably right. But there is also a conviction in what he does, and a strong belief in himself.”

After his 2017 rookie season, Freeland knew he had to evolve if he was going to succeed.

“The second half of last season was a battle,” he said. “Other teams knew what my game plan was, so they were looking for pitches they wanted to hit. But now I know the hitters better and I know more about my game, too. I’m more confident.”

It’s not as if Freeland’s 2017 season was a bust. Far from it.  He was 11-11 with a 4.10 ERA. He snuffed out the Los Angeles Dodgers in his big-league debut in Colorado’s home opener at Coors Field. On July 9, he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the White Sox.

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His ERA was the fourth-lowest by a rookie in franchise history, and the lowest since Jhoulys Chacin set the franchise record for rookies in 2010 with a 3.28 ERA. At Coors Field, Freeland finished 6-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 19 appearances (16 starts). That was the second-lowest home ERA by a rookie in team history, bettered only by Denny Stark’s mark of 3.21 in 2002.

But there were signs as the season dragged on that opposing batters were figuring him out.  Prior to the all-star break, Freeland went 9-7 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.398 WHIP. After the break, he was 2-4 with a 4.81 ERA and 1.685 WHIP. Plus, he walked 63 batters over 156 innings, far too many to suit him or Black.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the baseball book on Freeland was published, but it just might have been June 23, 2017 at Dodgers Stadium. On that Friday night at Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers battered Freeland for four runs on seven hits in the first two innings.  Freeland hung around for six innings in Colorado’s 6-1 loss, but the bottom line was not kind: five runs allowed on 10 hits, including three walks and a home run.

It was an eye-opener for Freeland, who had previously used his sinkerball to confound the Dodgers.

“They figured out how I was planning to pitch them,” Freeland said afterward. “It’s no secret I’m a sinker pitcher. And they hit my sinkers. They hit my mistakes and they hit ’em hard. But they saw my gameplan early and attacked it.”

Freeland took that lesson with him into the offseason and underwent a makeover.

Before his rookie season Freeland had added a little stop and kick to his delivery. He dubbed it, “the Kershaw pause,” after the similar motion used by Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. But this past winter, with the help of pitching coordinator Darryl Scott, Freeland ditched the hitch in his delivery.

“We tweaked my mechanics and kind of went back to the way I used to pitch,” Freeland said. “It feels more natural, and at the same time, I don’t get as tired throughout a game.

“We found out that by doing that pause at the bottom, it kind of de-loaded me and kind of robbed me of some of my power. Now I’m holding my weight load up higher and then driving directly down the mound and toward the plate. I’m controlling the zone better and throwing more strikes.”

Freeland also figured out that last year right-handed batters were camping out and waiting for his sinking fastball as it dove toward the outside of the plate.

“This year, I’ve concentrated on throwing a lot more to my glove side, trying to go inside on righties and make them more uncomfortable,” Freeland said, adding that he’s throwing more sliders and changeups than he did last season with the goal of becoming less predictable.

The results have been positive. Last season, right-handers hit .284 vs. Freeland with a .803 OPS. This season, they’re hitting .241 with a .681 OPS.

Against left-handers, Freeland has been nothing short of dominant. Opposing lefties have hit just .170.

Freeland’s other main goal this season was to reduce walks.  He’s beginning to accomplish that goal, too. He’s averaging 3.13 walks per nine innings compared to 3.33 last season.

“I’m doing pretty well with all of my goals,” he said. “You can always get better, but I’m getting there. I still have to cut down on walks, but I’m getting there.”

Said Black: “Kyle has really been setting a good tone lately. He’s been really aggressively attacking the zone and establishing a good tempo.”

Black sees Freeland as a pitcher with a bright future, as long as Freeland continues his education.

“Kyle needs to continue work and grow and work between starts,” Black said. “He had a very solid overall rookie season, but now the trick is to continue it. But Kyle is talented, and if he makes his pitches each and every fifth day, he’s going to have success. Because he has a good arm and he has good stuff.”

Pitch Particulars
A comparison of Kyle Freeland’s pitch selection in 2017 vs. 2018:

Pitch……….. 2017…..Pitch ……… 2018
63.9%…… Fastball/sinker……….54.6%
4.1% ……… Slider ……….. 6.1%
25.0%……….. .Cutter ………27.1%
7.1% ……..Changeup ……… 11.6%

Poudre High School alum, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor headed to International Space Station

12 hours 29 min ago

It’s a long way from Fort Collins to the International Space Station — about 250 vertical miles if the Earth-orbiting, multinational science experiment were parked directly above the northern Colorado city.

On June 6, Poudre High School alumna Serena Auñón-Chancellor will head skyward and, two days later, complete a journey that has had a few notable stops since her graduation in 1993.

Auñón-Chancellor is now a doctor with an undergraduate degree in engineering. She first came to NASA in 2006 as a flight surgeon providing medical care and advice to astronauts from the ground before being selected to be part of the agency’s 20th astronaut class in 2009. 

NASA/Robert MarkowitzNASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor

She and her fellow crew members — the European Space Agency’s Alexander Gerst and Sergey Prokopyev of Russia’s Roscosmos space program — left Russia on May 19 for their launch site in Kazakhstan. They will spend six months aboard the space station before returning to Earth in December, according to NASA.

“Obviously, you’re pretty excited. My crew just finished our final exams in Russia. It was a big relief to get that over with,”  Auñón-Chancellor said recently from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. “You almost begin to get your game face on. Our launch vehicle will be on the pad (when we arrive).”

Auñón-Chancellor will do more than serve as the crew’s chief source of medical care while aboard the space station. She will take part in a variety of experiments, including studying how time in space affects human bones and bone cells, and what that could mean for treatment of osteoporosis.

“There really is no one area that we will focus on in particular because of the hundreds of experiments going on on the ISS,” she said. “Really, we’ll be looking at every aspect of the human body as much as we can, as well as engineering and material science.”

Auñón-Chancellor’s space-bound luggage includes at least two mementos from Fort Collins: a banner and a T-shirt from her alma mater, Poudre High. The items were sent to her by physics students at the school after teacher Tim Lenczycki saw her featured in an IMAX movie at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center and got in touch via email. Lenczycki had Auñón-Chancellor as a student in physics and advanced-placement physics in the early 1990s.

“She was very goal-oriented,” Lenczycki recalled. “She even knew back then that she wanted to be an astronaut. She was thinking about med school, but her ultimate goal was the be an astronaut.”

Colorado has produced its share of astronauts, from Boulder’s Scott Carpenter to Denver’s Jack Swigert, but local school kids don’t have to go the NASA route to make an impact in space. Lenczycki said a handful of his former students work for Lockheed Martin, the aerospace industry giant now building a satellite production facility outside Littleton.

Colorado has the second-largest aerospace economy in the country and the highest concentration of aerospace professionals of any state, according to the Colorado Springs-based Space Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of space-related endeavors. The foundation notes that Colorado is home base for the U.S. military’s space operations, and its local research centers and universities — including astronaut factory the University of Colorado — are among the world’s best for aerospace education.

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“People are sometimes surprised to hear the influence that Colorado has on the aerospace community, but with the nation’s second-largest aerospace economy, Colorado plays a critical role in space and has a lot to offer startups as well as established aerospace organizations,” foundation chief operating officer Shelli Brunswick wrote in an email.

In a study done last year. the Colorado Space Coalition, an arm of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., put annual output of the state’s aerospace industry at $15.4 billion. Employment in the sector increased by 4.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, hitting 55,430 workers when military personnel are included.

Lenczycki said it means a lot to his students to see someone who graduated from their school going into space, especially a woman. He hopes to set up a Skype video-chat session with Auñón-Chancellor during her ISS mission.

“We do try to integrate some role models, especially female role models, in science now,” he said. “It’s not what you think. You don’t have to be a white-haired, old guy to do science.”

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