D-backs OF Alek Thomas shines, bullpen allows 8 runs in loss to Marlins
PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks rookie outfielder Alek Thomas collected two hits — including his first career home run — but the Miami Marlins scored eight runs in the ninth inning to win Wednesday’s ballgame 11-3.
Arizona (17-15) climbed out of a 3-0 hole and tied the game on a two-run blast from pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow in the eighth inning before Miami’s (14-17) onslaught.
On the first pitch he saw, Luplow sent a slider 399 feet to the left-field seats for his first career pinch-hit home run. Thomas was on base after hitting a single.
Jordan Luplow – Arizona Diamondbacks (4) pic.twitter.com/Sb2n22GUlC
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) May 11, 2022
Arizona closer Mark Melancon came in and got two outs in the ninth before the Marlins collected seven hits including two long balls.
Second baseman and former D-backs prospect Jazz Chisholm Jr. blasted a three-run shot off Melancon to give his squad a 7-3 lead.
“I just felt like we got back in the dugout in the bottom ninth inning, we were one batter away from doing so like we were gonna win that game,” manager Torey Lovullo said postgame.
“But it’s nothing that you ever project giving up whatever we gave up in the ninth inning. I don’t think that’ll happen very often. Our pitchers are too good for that.”
The D-backs mustered only two hits off Miami starter Sandy Alcantara before the eighth inning, one of which notably off the bat of Thomas in the third inning.
Thomas shot a first-pitch fastball the opposite way 414 feet into the seats. The ball jumped 103.1 miles per hour off his bat, according to Statcast.
“A kid driving a ball to left-center for his first homer is impressive,” Luplow said of Thomas postgame.
Alek Thomas – Arizona Diamondbacks (1) pic.twitter.com/G1Bskzj0NS
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) May 11, 2022
His teammates gave Thomas the silent treatment in the dugout before congratulating him. The solo blast cut Arizona’s deficit to 3-1.
Arizona’s pitching kept the team alive and in position to even the score after an inauspicious start.
The Marlins jumped out in front off a two-run shot by third baseman Joey Wendle to right field against starting pitcher Merrill Kelly. The blast was the first allowed by Kelly this season.
Miami piled on with three hits after a walk in the second frame to extend the lead to 3-0, but Kelly stranded a pair of runners in scoring position with a critical strikeout of Jorge Soler.
Kelly eventually settled down with 1-2-3 fourth and fifth innings to get to the bullpen.
In five frames, he surrendered three earned runs on seven hits. Wednesday was his second of seven starts this season in which he allowed multiple runs.
“Baseball’s a funny game,” Kelly said. “The other day, I obviously felt way worse and the result was a lot better. Today, I felt better and the result was worse. So, I felt pretty good. The ball was coming out of my hand pretty well.”
Reliever Caleb Smith replaced Kelly on the mound and struck out six batters in three perfect innings of work.
Smith was pivotal to Arizona’s comeback, giving his offense ample chances to get back on the board. The Marlins were held hitless from innings 4-8.
Alcantara was largely flawless aside from Thomas’ shot.
The righty’s fastball continued to climb in velocity throughout up to 99.7 miles per hour, and he paired the heat with a low-90s changeup used to finish off each of his six strikeouts.
Sandy Alcántara, Unfair Changeups.
93mph, 93mph AND 94mph Changeups. Yep. pic.twitter.com/brIjuKN6AY
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 11, 2022
Only one D-backs player reached scoring position against him. Third baseman Josh Rojas walked and stole second in the fourth inning but was stranded.
The second D-backs hit off Alcantara was a single by designated hitter Seth Beer, which snapped his 0-for-36 streak.
“Everybody that’s played this game … whether it’s little league or high school, college or pro ball, everybody’s gone through a little grinding phase in their their baseball careers,” Lovullo said. “It’s quite a relief when you see that ball fall.”
Arizona gets Thursday off before facing the Chicago Cubs in a three-game set over the weekend to close the homestand.
The D-backs have won three straight series, while the Cubs recently took two of three games against the San Diego Padres.
Friday’s game begins at 6:40 with Zach Davies set to pitch for the D-backs. The action will air on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.