ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Tigers SS Javier Baez’s grand slam gives Diamondbacks 4th straight loss

Jun 24, 2022, 10:47 PM | Updated: 11:03 pm
Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a first inning pitch against the Detroit Tig...
Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a first inning pitch against the Detroit Tigers at Chase Field on June 24, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Detroit Tigers only needed one swing of the bat to get enough runs to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 in front of 22,064 fans at Chase Field on Friday night.

Tigers (27-43) sehort stop Javier Baez belted a grand slam in the top of the third inning to give Detroit four of its five runs on the night, four of which came off D-backs (32-40) starting pitcher Merrill Kelly.

The third was the only blemished inning for the Scottsdale Desert Mountain High School alumnus, who allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings pitched while striking out five, giving up one walk and hitting one batter on 99 pitches (68 strikes).

“I think tonight that’s kind of what I’m going to take away from the game — that I got beat on one pitch. … I wasn’t feeling like I was getting beat badly,” Kelly said postgame. “I just got beat on that one pitch. … Obviously giving up a grand slam sucks. I would’ve liked to have not done that.

“I feel like at the end of the day I can walk away knowing that I just missed with one pitch. The rest of the game was fine, made pitches, got outs. They strung together seven hits, but in my mind not a ton of them were hit very hard. So I can kind of live with that, just obviously mad that the one pitch I didn’t execute came back to bite me.”

It was another rough day at the office for the Diamondbacks, who have now only mustered eight runs in their last four games.

Friday night’s contest saw Arizona manufacture one run on three hits, four walks and one hit batter while leaving six runners on and going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

The D-backs lone run on the night came in the fourth inning after Christian Walker singled and advanced to third on a David Peralta single — which ended up being Arizona’s last hit of the night — before Josh Rojas brought the Arizona first baseman home to score on a sac-fly to center field.

Tigers right-handed starter Rony Garcia only allowed one run in 5.1 innings pitched on three hits and two walks while striking out three over 81 pitches (51 strikes).

“The ball was moving, his sinker was on, he had control of it,” D-backs second baseman Jake Hager said postgame of Garcia’s performance. “He was busting the righties inside. He just had full control of that pitch, it was tough to pick up honestly. He commanded the zone, he made his pitches and we just couldn’t get him today.”

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo called on the bullpen arms of LHP Kyle Nelson and RHPs Sean Poppen and J.B. Wendelken for the final three innings, respectively. Poppen was the only reliever to give up a baserunner (two hits) and also gave up one run.

“Wasn’t anything close to what we expected to do today,” Lovullo said postgame. “With Merrill on the mound, you feel like you’re going to get a well-pitched game and I thought he threw it well enough — he just made an in-zone mistake to a very good hitter.

“And you expect to score some runs off a pitcher who hasn’t necessarily proven himself. He’s got good stuff, but I think there were some vulnerabilities there that we could have taken advantage of and that’s what we talked about as a group. Just didn’t go anything close to the way that we wanted it to.”

TORK’S RETURN

Arizona State alumnus Spencer Torkelson made his return to the Valley for the first time as a big-leaguer since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Tigers in the 2020 MLB Draft. The former Sun Devil was greeted with an applause in his first at-bat — an infield single — before going 1-for-4 on the night.

UP NEXT

The Diamondbacks host the Tigers on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Arizona RHP Zach Davies (2-4, 3.96 ERA) is scheduled to start against Detroit RHP Alex Faedo (1-4, 4.67 ERA).

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