ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly allows one run in loss to the Mariners

Mar 23, 2021, 10:05 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly (29) throws during the first inning of a spring...

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly (29) throws during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

SCOTTSDALE – Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly continues to improve, but the Arizona Diamondbacks’ offense couldn’t produce any run support in a 3-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Salt River Fields on Tuesday night.

Kelly gave up five hits and one earned run in 4.2 innings of combined work. He struck out three and walked two.

The 32-year-old right hander threw 90 pitches, 55 for strikes, and currently has a 6.59 ERA in 13.2 innings pitched this spring. He was also 1-2 at the plate with a single.

After the game, Kelly said he felt better than he has in any of his previous starts.

“As far as all four pitches go, I think that was probably the best I’ve executed them. That was the best they’ve felt coming out of my hand,” he added.

“I like the action on all of them. I threw some really good changeups, got some swings and misses, got some weak contact on the changeup. I was happy to see that.”

This was Kelly’s fourth start on the rubber for the D-backs and has battled with giving up early runs in Cactus League play, but he was able to limit the damage in this outing.

He allowed a leadoff walk to centerfielder and former D-back Mitch Haniger, who scored on an RBI double off the bat of shortstop Dylan Moore later in the inning.

Kelly has now allowed at least one earned run in the first inning of every appearance this spring.

“I thought he was real good today,” Torey Lovullo said postgame of his starter. “He’s very consistent with landing breaking balls, and maybe he was just a little off with a couple of key pitches in key moments that just were missing off the edge of the zone.”

Once Kelly got out of the first inning, he settled in and attacked the strike zone with a vast array of pitches. From that point on, he pitched three scoreless innings despite getting into a two-out bases loaded jam in the fourth that he worked his way out of.

“At the end of the day, he only gave up one run. Which was a really nice outing for him,” added Lovullo.

In an odd series of events, Kelly returned to the lineup as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth after being removed from the game as a pitcher after one out in the top of the inning. He then came back into the game to pitch for one out in the sixth. Spring training at its finest.

“Just to get the six up downs,” said Kelly on the reason for the back and forth. “That was the main goal really more than anything. And I wanted to get another at bat too, so that helped.”

He singled in the at-bat.

Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera extended his current hitting streak to seven games with a single in the first inning. He was 1-3 at the plate and is batting .500 in his last seven games with three doubles, two home runs and five RBI.

First baseman Christian Walker is also having a nice spring, going 2-3 and adding another double to his accumulative total in the fourth inning.

Walker is currently hitting .352 with three doubles, four home runs and three walks in his last 12 games and entered this one tied for the RBI lead for all of Spring Training with 14.

Outside of those hits, the D-backs’ offense was stuck in first gear for most of the night.

“The concern for me is minimal,” Lovullo said of the lack of offense. “Right now, it’s spring training. You’re looking for a little lineup continuity. Today was the first day that Christian Walker and Nick Ahmed played on the same infield.

“I think things are going to come together just fine. I’m not concerned about it. I know we’ve been working extremely hard to get away from some of the things that I’ve talked about in the past and that’s really what it is to me.”

The loss broke a three-game streak of ties the D-backs were on. With that being said, they are still tied with the Dodgers, Mariners, Marlins and White Sox for – you guessed it – most ties this spring with five.

UP NEXT

The D-backs will welcome the Cleveland Indians to Salt River Fields for an interleague Cactus League matchup. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.

Caleb Smith is scheduled to make his fifth start of spring training. Smith is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 11.2 innings pitched.

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