Merrill Kelly pitches 6 innings, Vogt drives home 2 runs in D-backs win
Before the Arizona Diamondbacks game against the San Diego Padres on Saturday, Torey Lovullo said he liked the matchup between catcher Stephen Vogt and Padres starting pitcher Chris Paddack.
Starting Vogt ended up being the right move. Vogt was responsible for two D-backs runs, including a solo homer, in Arizona’s 3-2 win.
But Vogt’s home run wasn’t what excited Lovullo, nor was it the one off the bat of Starling Marte. The first thing the manager talked about with media after the game was Vogt’s sacrifice fly to drive Marte home two innings earlier.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, Marte hit a leadoff double. David Peralta moved him to third with a grounder to the right side, and then Vogt hit a sac fly to drive him home.
“The way we did it was nice. We had a couple solo home runs, but let’s go back to the double, get him over, get him in,” Lovullo said. “Those are the little things that we talk about, that we preach. That helps you win one-run ball games.”
Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly also did his best to help the D-backs win the one-run game.
After Fernando Tatis Jr. led off the bottom of a first with a home run for the second game in a row, Kelly only allowed two runners to pass first base over the remainder of his outing.
He pitched through six full innings and faced the minimum of three batters in four of them. There was only once when he got into trouble.
In the third, the Padres got runners on the corners with no outs and the heart of the order set to come to the plate.
“Anytime you’ve got first and third, nobody out, you wanna go for the punch-out,” Vogt said.
Trent Grisham took Kelly to a full count. Vogt called for a fastball. Kelly shook him off in favor of the changeup.
“I’ve never really shied away from shaking (the catcher’s call),” Kelly said.
“My mentality is, I’m the one throwing the pitch, and if I get beat on it, that falls on me. Obviously, I know the catchers take pride in taking their game plan into the game and I know they take pride in calling the pitches, but at the end of day, it falls on our stats, it falls on our heads if that pitch ends up biting us in the butt.”
He got Grisham swinging.
Manny Machado then grounded into a double play. Scoreless inning, crisis averted.
“You’re facing the two-three-four, that lineup, with first and third, nobody out — you’re happy if you get out of there with one run,” Vogt said. “He didn’t want that, he wanted no runs, and he made the pitches when he needed to to get us out of it.”
From there on out it was smooth sailing for Kelly, who retired the next seven batters and then forced Machado to ground into another double play to end the sixth.
Kelly started the seventh inning, but after a seven-pitch at-bat that resulted in a leadoff single, Lovullo pulled him in favor of Andrew Chafin to face lefty Eric Hosmer.
Kelly finished his day with one run allowed on six hits and 84 pitches through six-plus innings.
“As a catcher, it’s so much fun when you have someone who has everything in their repertoire,” Vogt said. “It is so much fun to set guys up and then get them going. He really has just given us a chance to win every time he’s taken the ball. That’s all you can ask, and he’s been phenomenal.”
The D-backs’ offense – namely, Vogt and Marte – did enough to make that be enough.
Marte homered to left to lead off the sixth inning. Three batters later, Vogt mimicked him with a solo shot down the right field line to take a 3-1 lead.
Chafin took care of the seventh. Hector Rondon came out for the eighth. He retired the first two batters before being challenged by Tatis.
Tatis took two balls and then powered a home run to left field to cut Arizona’s lead to 3-2.
He has crushed the Diamondbacks this season. Tatis has seven home runs on the year, tied for the second-most in the majors, and four of them have come against the D-backs, including three in the last two days.
“He’s gonna be in NL West for a long time. I get excited to watch young players perform at that level,” Lovullo said. “We’ll set it aside for tomorrow, hopefully we can do our best to make pitches against him, but if you make a mistake, he’s gonna make you pay for it.”
Outside of Tatis, though, the Padres couldn’t damage the D-backs. Archie Bradley closed out the game in the ninth, giving the D-backs their sixth win of the year.
Arizona managed to beat Paddack, who gave the team its first loss of the season on Opening Day.
Lovullo saw Saturday’s game as a team win, from Peralta moving Marte over in the fourth to the bullpen picking each other up.
“These are the types of games where one person hands it off to the next. They’re linked moments – we talked about linked at-bats, we talked about linking things together in the bullpen,” Lovullo said.
“Those are the type of games that we have rehearsed in our minds many times. And when you do it, it just builds a very healthy culture.”
Now 6-9 on the season, Arizona evened up the series with the Padres and is looking to win its second series in a row.
First pitch Sunday will be at 1:10 p.m. Listen live at 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.