ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs’ Merrill Kelly strikes out 8 in perfect 3 innings vs. Giants

Mar 23, 2022, 4:34 PM | Updated: Mar 24, 2022, 7:30 am

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants...

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo couldn’t have asked for much more from starting pitcher Merrill Kelly on Wednesday.

In a 5-2 spring training win over the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium, Kelly tossed a perfect three innings while striking out eight of the nine batters he faced.

Kelly finished his outing having only allowed one ball in play — a fly out — on a total 45-pitch limit.

“Probably the best I’ve felt all camp,” he said. “Definitely feels good to get that first one out of the way.

“Obviously I think the results kind of speak for themselves on how I felt. The ball was coming out pretty good. Happy with it and hope I can build on it the rest of camp.”

Kelly fanned Giants Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Crawford and Darin Ruf all swinging to lead off the game in the bottom of the first.

San Francisco’s Joc Pederson was the only batter to put the ball in play against Kelly on the day to lead off the second inning.

However, that was the only blip on Kelly’s performance — if one can even call it that — as the D-backs right-hander punched out the remaining five batters he faced. The 33-year-old starter struck out the side twice and got three Giants batters looking on the day.

“He gave had three unbelievable innings with real good aggressive stuff,” Lovullo said.

“I think he does (have an extra gear),” the manager added. “I think all good quality starting pitching when they’re synced up and their delivery is clean and they’ve made some adjustments, I think they all have the ability to stand on their stuff a little bit extra when they need to.”

Kelly’s No. 1 focus this offseason was to work on his changeup by making mechanical tweaks, grip changes and to focus on throwing it — not manipulating it.

The D-backs right-handed starter said he noticed some inconsistencies with it over the past two seasons after he wasn’t getting the same amount of swing and misses that he had on Wednesday. Kelly’s fastball was also coming in at 94-95 mph on the radar gun.

“Fastball was good, had some life on it and I was happy to see the changeup doing what it was doing,” he said. “I feel like the last couple years I really enjoyed throwing the changeup — it’s a pitch I have always prided myself on.

“I think the last couple years it hasn’t been — at least for me — as good as it should be and I’m happy with what I see from it this year.”

The 33-year-old added that he has an “old-school starting pitcher mentality” in that he wants to eat innings, take the ball and go as deep as he can in every ballgame he starts.

“Any time you can eliminate a worry for an organization — if they don’t have to think about your spot — then it’s just a bonus and I just try to go out there and take the ball every fifth day,” Kelly said.

AT THE PLATE

The D-backs got three of their runs on RBI doubles from Jordan Luplow in the first, David Peralta in the fifth and Matt Davidson in the sixth. Dominic Canzone blasted a two-run homer in the top of the eighth, his second of the spring to tie Peralta for the team lead.

“He got a ball in that left-handed honey hole and he didn’t miss it,” Lovullo said. “I’ve seen him at the minor league minicamp for a couple weeks and he swings the bat good.

“If you make a mistake, he’s going to do something like that. He’s a very confident kid. Obviously it was a big home run — made the difference in the game.”

Daulton Varsho and Peralta each reached base twice with a hit and walk apiece, while Luplow’s two doubles made him the only D-back with multiple hits on the day.

The Diamondbacks finished with eight hits and four base-on-balls while striking out 11 times and leaving 12 runners on base.

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