Merrill Kelly sets career high in strikeouts in D-backs’ loss to Dodgers

May 20, 2021, 9:43 PM | Updated: 11:15 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly throws to the plate during the first inning of ...

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

It was a record-setting night on Thursday for Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly when he struck out 12 batters, eclipsing his career high of 10.

The strikeout that pushed him over the edge came against the newest Los Angeles Dodger Albert Pujols, who hit a two-run homer off Kelly in the second inning. Pujols struck out looking.

Kelly followed up the Pujols strikeout with a 12th against Yoshi Tsutsugo to end the seventh.

The D-backs and Dodgers were tied coming into the seventh, but a Will Smith home run off Kelly gave LA a 3-2 lead that became a victory, which left a bitter taste on Kelly’s strong seven-inning outing.

“I was happy with the way I threw. I kept the team in the game, but obviously that one pitch was the difference in the game,” Kelly said postgame via Zoom. “As a competitor, this is what we do. Our goal is to go out and win every day.

“The 12 strikeouts is great. The seven innings is great for personal reasons, but at the end of the day, the goal is to get the W for the team and it’s just too bad it didn’t turn out that way tonight.”

The right handed pitcher also made a stellar move in the sixth inning to pick off Max Muncy and close out the inning.

Muncy was a thorn in Kelly’s side all night, going 2-for-3 against the 32-year-old pitcher. However, Kelly got his revenge.

This season, Kelly is 2-5 with a 5.05 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over the course of nine starts.

He said that tonight was the first time on the mound this season that he’s started to feel like his old self after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery last year.

“I’ve tried my best not to nit-pick at things this year,” Kelly said. “I knew it was probably going to be a learning curve coming back from the injury and getting back into the swing of things of the day-in, day-out rotation stuff. … I’ve done my best to remember that we still have a long way to go and that every day is an opportunity to continue to try to get better.”

Offensive woes continued for the D-backs, who notched seven hits on the night but couldn’t convert to runs. Their only score came from Eduardo Escobar’s two-run homer in the sixth inning.

While Escobar’s home run was a bright spot, the sweep by the Dodgers is not. Over the four game series with the Dodgers, the D-backs scored a total of six runs as they continue to battle back from a multitude of injuries sweeping the team.

Escobar feels that though it’s tough to swallow the losses right now, the momentum will shift soon as the team keeps grinding and players return.

“It’s a really, really, really tough moment for everybody on this team right now,” he said. “It’s hard when you lose five of the best players. … I still believe in my team. I still believe in my guys. I still fight for my team, I still fight for my manager, for my coach.”

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