D-backs avoid sweep with rollercoaster win vs. Tigers in Keuchel’s debut
PHOENIX — Left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel and the Arizona Diamondbacks secured an 11-7 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday in his debut with the team.
The lefty said he very nervous and that his heart rate skyrocketed before taking the mound. It didn’t seem to affect him out the gate as he retired the side to begin the game, but that was his only unblemished inning of the afternoon.
The Tigers jumped all over Keuchel in the second inning with a double from Arizona State product Spencer Torkelson, a single from catcher Eric Haase and then a triple from Willi Castro to make the game 2-0.
In the third, catcher Carson Kelly awoke not only the 22,529 fans at Chase Field, but the D-backs’ offense with a solo home run. Arizona had struggled eading into Sunday as losers of five straight and only mustered five hits in Saturday night’s loss.
Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo drew a walk a batter after Kelly’s home run, followed by a Pavin Smith single and Ketel Marte nine-pitch walk to load the bases. Smith finished with a career-high four hits on the day, while the D-backs were walked eight total times as a team.
“There was a ton of traffic every inning. Every time I looked up there were runners on the bases and then we slugged behind that,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “That, to me, is a key from an offensive standpoint. I want our hitters to control the zone.”
First baseman Christian Walker then smoked a ball to left-center field and Riley Greene — the same Greene that made a spectacular diving play on Saturday night that robbed the D-backs of a bases-clearing, extra-base hit.
Arizona added two runs in the third to tie the game but Detroit immediately launched a two-out rally against Keuchel in the fourth.
Keuchel struck out the first two batters of the inning but allowed a walk and two singles that pushed the Detroit lead to one.
He finished with 98 pitches, 55 strikes, six hits, three walks and seven strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched.
“That’s a really good squad over there and they play a lot better than their record shows, that was a great team win on a getaway day,” Keuchel said postgame.
“The last 15-20 starts have been a whirlwind, kind of a rollercoaster ride for me. It’s just one main key and that is keeping myself in a stable position to create late movement to the plate and a linear line to the catcher … We didn’t get 13 swings and misses by being lucky.”
The D-backs responded once again in the bottom half of the inning. Josh Rojas drove in a run with a single that sent Kelly to third. Rojas reached second on a passed ball and both were driven in by Smith a batter later, giving the D-backs a two-run lead.
The teeter-totter-type game did not end there. Right-hander J.B. Wendelken relieved Keuchel in the fifth inning and gave up a three-run home run to Haase, forfeiting the lead once again. The ball was hit 433 feet and had an exit velocity of 105.6 MPH off the bat. He knew it was gone the second he hit it.
Stop if you have heard this before on Sunday. The D-backs tied the game once again in the bottom half of the frame after loading the bases with no outs. Arizona was only able to muster one run in the inning on a Carson Kelly sacrifice fly, though.
In the home half of the sixth, the D-backs scored for the fourth consecutive inning on an RBI single from Smith, a sacrifice fly from Buddy Kennedy and a three-run blast from Daulton Varsho to give Arizona a five-run lead.
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“It was a good day and something this team needed after getting pushed around and bullied the last few days,” Lovullo said.
Smith has struggled in 2022 but the four hits saw his average reach over .207 on the year.
This was the fourth lead change of the ballgame as from the bottom of the third through the bottom of the sixth, both teams combined to score 15 runs in six of seven half-innings.
The D-backs used Wendelken, Noe Ramierez, Ian Kennedy and Mark Melancon as relievers to close out the game after Keuchel.
The 11-7 win not only ended the five-game losing streak but awoke an offense that had only scored 11 runs over those games.
Lovullo was asked postgame whether Keuchel would be the fifth starter in the rotation, but he was not ready to commit to that just yet.
“Of course, I’m very pleased with what I saw, the preparation, the command of the baseball and throwing it where he wants to,” Lovullo said. “I thought it was a very good outing, we haven’t had a chance to talk about it but we will.”
Arizona has a day off Monday before taking on the San Diego Padres in a two-game set starting Tuesday.
Zac Gallen is scheduled to be on the bump against Sean Manaea.