Merrill Kelly, Diamondbacks offense get off to hot start in July vs. Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks (35-42) right-handed pitcher Merrill Kelly wasted no time getting off to a hot start in the month of July with a 9-3 win over the Colorado Rockies (33-44) at Coors Field on Friday night.
In his first outing and the D-backs’ first game of the month, the Scottsdale Desert Mountain High School alumnus went seven innings, allowing just two runs on five hits (one home run) and one walk while striking out three batters over 101 pitches (71 strikes).
“I have had an Achilles’ heel walking people this year,” Kelly told reporters postgame. “Just making sure that I’m staying aggressive and not nitpicking in those counts to make sure I stay ahead.”
Kelly has dominated the Rockies in his two starts against the National League West division rival this season, the first of which was hit best of the year.
Back on May 6 at Chase Field, the 33-year-old right-hander went 8.2 innings and allowed only one run on seven hits and two walks while striking out a season-high eight batters.
Kelly finished just one out short of what would have been the first complete game of his four-year career.
The Diamondbacks couldn’t wait to turn the calendar offensively, as the first two batters of the ballgame on Friday gave Arizona a lead thanks to a leadoff double by Josh Rojas that was followed by an RBI triple from rookie Alek Thomas.
The National League Rookie of the Year candidate had himself a day at the plate as well, adding a two-run home run — his seventh on the year — to left field in the top of the seventh inning to extend the D-backs’ lead to 6-1.
.@athomas22 sends one over the fences and brings home Gerry! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/JebqtfDeXv
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) July 2, 2022
Arizona catcher Carson Kelly and left fielder David Peralta also both took advantage of the warm air and high altitude of a July contest at Coors Field with a pair of solo homers in the top of the second and sixth innings, respectively.
The big flies were Carson Kelly’s second and Peralta’s 10th dinger of the 2022 campaign.
Big fly by the Freight Train in the mile high city. pic.twitter.com/7JZcDPoaG3
— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) July 2, 2022
Peralta nearly hit another in the top of the eighth with a blast that hit off the top of the wall to bring in Christian Walker.
Daulton Varsho followed up with an RBI single to bring in Peralta to make it 8-2 in favor of the Diamondbacks.
Manager Torey Lovullo opted to bring in right-handed pitcher Sean Poppen in relief of Merrill Kelly in the bottom of the eighth, who allowed a solo home run to birthday boy Charlie Blackmon, before RHP Luke Weaver closed out the ninth and final frame.
– All-Star second baseman Ketel Marte remained as Arizona’s DH as manager Lovullo is still being cautious with his return from a hamstring injury.
“This is a tricky environment here,” Lovullo said of playing at altitude.
– Diamondbacks LHP Tyler Holton and OF Cooper Hummel made the trip on the taxi squad.
With an off day Thursday in Denver, Lovullo attended the parade for the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
“I didn’t want to miss it. It lets you see what a town can get like backing their boys,” he said. “It’s exciting. I saw a lot of emotion. I saw a lot of excitement from fans and I saw the players on the floats. But I was green with envy, I’m not going to lie to you. That’s what I’m motivated by every single day, to make something like that happen in Arizona.”
The D-backs go for the series win over the Rockies on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
Arizona LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-5, 7.93 ERA) is scheduled to start against Colorado LHP Austin Gomber (3-7, 6.55 ERA).
The Associated Press contributed to this story.