Merrill Kelly stays sharp, Diamondbacks don’t capitalize in loss to Rockies
PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly built off his July success Saturday against the Colorado Rockies, but missed offensive opportunities and a late home run allowed by Ian Kennedy led to a 3-2 loss.
The D-backs (47-59) backed up Kelly with a strong defensive showing that included three doubles plays and collected 10 hits. They just did not produce runs when given chances.
Manager Torey Lovullo said the team did enough right to win a game but not consistently enough to string anything together.
“We got everything set up really nicely with Merrill,” Lovullo said. “I thought he got into a really good rhythm today. … We made some mistakes in a couple of key situations.”
Kelly held the Rockies (48-62) scoreless through six and finished with seven frames and two earned runs allowed.
Another day, another C-Walk snag. 😏 pic.twitter.com/F3UzK5SOPp
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 7, 2022
The veteran righty said he had good command throughout the game — minus a couple of pitches that stood out to him — which has been a theme of his recently. He threw 93 pitches Saturday, 70 were strikes.
“I have my command, that means I can be more aggressive, I can attack better,” Kelly said.
“If I have my command, that means I’m getting ahead early on, that means I can expand the zone late rather than if I don’t have the command. That means I’m falling behind and then you kind of go into more survival mode than attack mode.”
Kelly said that his current stretch — 1.50 ERA over his last seven starts — is the best of his MLB career.
The D-backs gave him early run support on a Christian Walker RBI single in the first inning. They did not score again until Kelly allowed his first run in the seventh, though, which broke his scoreless inning streak at 21.
A key missed chance came in the fifth inning, as Arizona had runners on second and third with one out.
Josh Rojas hit a low liner to right field, which outfielder Charlie Blackmon caught on a slide. Seth Beer was on third base, but he was off the bag when the ball was caught.
Beer went back to tag up and attempt to score, which took long enough for the throw to beat him easily.
Lovullo said Beer was 10 feet too far off the base.
“I read it wrong off the bat, kind of got stuck in between and when Blackmon was coming in on it, it looked like it might fall,” Beer said. “It’s a mental mistake and I take full responsibility for it.”
The D-backs never developed another scoring chance that opportune again Saturday night.
Daulton Varsho hit a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning to give Arizona a 2-1 lead, but the D-backs did not get runners in scoring position after the fifth.
VARSH💣. #LosDbacks pic.twitter.com/5ivWSPFJDV
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@LosDbacks) August 7, 2022
Kelly allowed a solo blast to Rockies designated hitter Elehuris Montero — his first MLB home run — in the eighth on a cutter the righty said caught much more of the plate than he intended.
The D-backs turned to Kennedy with the game tied in the ninth a day after Lovullo told reporters the ninth inning role would be by committee.
Colorado third baseman Ryan McMahon belted a high fastball over the left-center field wall for the game-winner, and Arizona went down 1-2-3 against Rockies closer Daniel Bard in the bottom half.
Ryan McMahon – Colorado Rockies (10)
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) August 7, 2022
NOT APPRECIATED SLIDE
The bases were loaded in the second inning with one out after Kelly hit Blackmon with a pitch on an 0-2 count. Lovullo believes Blackmon retaliated with a hard, late slide into Ketel Marte while he was turning two to end the frame.
Blackmon was called for interference, and Kelly had some words.
“I was just saying that I didn’t really appreciate it,” Kelly said.
The rubber match is set for Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Zach Davies gets the ball for Arizona against Colorado’s Jose Urena.
Catch the game on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.