Diamondbacks unable to find answers for Dustin May, Dodgers in home-opening loss
Apr 6, 2023, 11:53 PM
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — After six games away from the desert to start the 2023 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks (3-4) were back in town Thursday night for a home-opening slate against the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers (5-2).
In what is viewed by many as a local holiday, it was a sellout crowd of 48,034 at Chase Field, with a street festival, flyover, fireworks and a memorable first pitch from Phoenix police officer Tyler Moldovan setting the stage for a solid night of baseball.
The game, however, was one to forget for starting pitcher Merrill Kelly and the D-backs, who were on the wrong side of a 5-2 result. Arizona is now 14-11 in home openers.
Kelly saw his second start of the season last 5.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits and four walks to four strikeouts, including No. 500 to none other than former teammate David Peralta. He was also dinged with a pitch-clock violation in the sixth inning.
The defeat moves Kelly to 0-1 on the season and 0-10 lifetime against the Dodgers.
“I definitely don’t feel like I’m locked in, definitely don’t feel like I’m kind of cruising,” Kelly said postgame. “Definitely fighting myself on some mechanical stuff, some timing stuff. But it’s the first two games, we got a long way to go.
“Some (pitches) I feel like I’m missing just by a hair and other ones in my mind I’m missing by way too much. We’ve been definitely addressing that. I’m mindful of not getting ahead of people and not throwing quality strikes when I need to. It’s definitely something that’s an area of emphasis right now.”
Kelly ran into the most trouble in the third inning following a one-run second frame.
After getting leadoff man Mookie Betts to fly out, first baseman Freddie Freeman responded with a double before Will Smith registered a walk to put two men on with one out.
Third baseman Max Muncy grounded into what looked to be a double play in the making, but shortstop Geraldo Perdomo and Kelly couldn’t connect at first base following the force out at second.
Freeman headed home to make it 2-0.
Former D-back and Dodgers designated hitter J.D. Martinez extended the lead on the next at-bat behind an RBI double before being thrown out at third base and ending the inning.
Another run in the sixth would spell the end of Kelly’s night.
For Kelly, it’s about getting that consistency back following a not-so-normal spring that included the World Baseball Classic and a different workload than he had been accustomed to seeing ahead of the regular season.
“I’m not naive to not think that I didn’t get my normal build up this spring training with the amount of games and the amount of reps and the amount of innings that I normally would have gotten.
“I think the games around spring training were around the same amount, but obviously they were different circumstances, not just building up innings and getting the reps I need to. I’ve definitely dealt with bouts of inconsistency throughout my career without the different build up, but I definitely wouldn’t take it off the table that it’s kind of leaking in from the preparation to the season.”
Merrill Kelly “isn’t naive” to the fact he didn’t get his normal buildup this past spring thanks to the WBC.
“I’ve dealt with bouts of consistency without the different buildup but I wouldn’t take it off the table that it’s kind of leaking in from the preparation to the season.” pic.twitter.com/7zOryAnOPS
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) April 7, 2023
But for all the trouble Kelly got into Thursday night, the same couldn’t be said for Dodgers hurler Dustin May.
Outside of an RBI double from third baseman Josh Rojas in the sixth inning, May caused D-backs hitters fits for most of the night, allowing just two hits along with the run across six frames of work.
“For the second time in a row, their starting pitcher seemed to throw a pretty good game against our offense,” manager Torey Lovullo said postgame. “I want to give credit where credit is due, but I feel like … where we’re getting to and where we’re going, we got to find a way to win these types of games and beat these types of pitchers.
“There’s a certain standard here that I want to make sure we’re upholding. I believe in our hitters enough to go out there and execute against anybody. We got to believe that deep in our heart. Every single day, we’re going to go out and beat whoever’s throwing. … The remedy’s simple. When you play baseball and execute at a high level, good things happen and when you don’t … bad things happen.”
– Rojas on the sellout crowd and atmosphere of Chase Field:
“It was awesome, it was loud and it was a lot of D-backs fans, too. The last couple years we haven’t had that. We’ve been getting spanked by the Dodgers and normally we’re playing at home and we’re on the road. We’re getting booed taking the field, stuff like that.
“Today was awesome. I felt like it was a home crowd and the D-backs fans showed out and were loud. It was a lot of fun, it was loud, it was electric.”