ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs stay competitive, walks continue to kill in loss to Padres

Apr 22, 2023, 9:59 PM

Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a warm-up pitch during the fi...

Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a warm-up pitch during the first inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 22, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Walks continued to plague the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night in a 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres at Chase Field.

Arizona (12-10) walked six batters, two of which scored to make up the scoring difference, while no D-backs batters reached via base on balls (Christian Walker was hit by a pitch).

Merrill Kelly started and only surrendered three hits in five-plus innings. But a two-out walk in the first inning led to a run, and two walks in the sixth led to a bases-loaded, nobody-out predicament.

Manager Torey Lovullo went to the bullpen, and Kyle Nelson struck out two before allowing a not-so-sharp ground ball through the 5-6 hole that brought home two runs and a 4-3 lead for San Diego (11-12).

Four Padres runs came with two outs even though they finished 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

“This is a game that was a little bit frustrating, I think we did a lot of things well, I think the difference was just some timely two-out hitting by the Padres,” Lovullo said postgame.

“They have done it for both their wins. You’ve got to make pitches and finalize the inning and not take anything for granted once you get there … just got to do a better job finishing off innings in the most critical time.”

Kelly retired 10 Padres in a row and struck out the side in the third, producing 10 whiffs in the game.

But he said putting runners on base has been the most frustrating part of his season thus far having entered Saturday with 12 walks in 21.1 innings.

“When I’m getting ahead and I’m throwing strikes, the results have been really, really good,” Kelly said postgame. “When I’m not getting ahead, I’m putting people on, putting the relievers in tough situations to come in.

“I have got to do a better job of not putting my guys in those types of situations.”

Arizona’s pitching staff entered Saturday’s game with the third-highest walk rate in the majors at 11.2%, with 93 total and 4.28 per nine innings.

In contrast, the offense has 40 walks this year, the fewest in baseball.

“Sometimes we don’t have a very mature at-bat because everybody wants to do it,” Lovullo said. “They want to be the guy who is gonna go ahead and do it. But put the bat down. Let the next guy take his shot at it and just keep passing the torch.”

Like Thursday’s 7-5 loss to San Diego, Arizona was in Saturday’s game the whole time.

The D-backs fell behind 2-0 in the first and jumped ahead 3-2 in the third inning after a Walker two-run home run. Walker brought in all three runs for the D-backs as he continues to right the ship following a slow start.

He is 11-for-30 over the last eight games (.367 average) with five extra-base hits.

Arizona trailed by two in the bottom of the eighth but got two runners on with two outs, and Lovullo turned to Nick Ahmed off the bench for Pavin Smith against lefty Tim Hill. Ahmed bounced into a fielder’s choice, but the chance was there.

“That’s kind of what you hold on to,” Walker said postgame. “It was right there. It’s nobody’s fault. But there was an opportunity to win a baseball game, whether it was we score an extra runner, whatever the situation is.

“You can’t take any credit away from them as far as a timely hit here and there and making the runs count. But overall, it’s something to hold on to, being in every game.”

Three of Arizona’s last four losses have come by two or fewer runs.

The defense and bullpen continued to keep Arizona in striking range on Saturday.

Relievers — Nelson, Scott McGough, Andrew Chafin and Kevin Ginkel — allowed one earned run on three hits in four innings.

Defenders not only made all the routine plays but went beyond.

Right fielder Corbin Carroll, who went 2-for-4 with a run at the plate, started the game by tracking down this fly ball in the corner:


Great break, closing speed and timing on the jump.

Third baseman Josh Rojas continued building his highlight reel with this bare-handed play in the seventh (featuring some McGough acrobatics):

And Walker started a critical 3-6-3-4 double play after a lead-off walk in the fifth by spearing a 107.1 mph ground ball, looking at the runner to freeze him, stepping on the bag and starting a run down.

The game came down to situational hitting, in which the D-backs awarded the Padres more opportunities than they hit into. Arizona stranded six runners and only had one reach scoring position after the fourth inning.

HEALTH UPDATE

Walker’s left forearm was wrapped up in the clubhouse after the game due to the hit-by-pitch.

He said it was very sore but claimed he’ll be alright.

“Just muscle stuff, should be good,” Walker said.

BATTING ORDER

Lovullo ran out the same batting order as Friday’s 9-0 win, the first time he’s used the same lineup in consecutive games this year.

“I could mix and match a little bit but felt like this lineup had some continuity,” Lovullo said. “And for the first time, somebody didn’t need a day off in the group. I thought it was a good opportunity for us to go out there again, the same guys hitting around one another.”

Lovullo said Padres probable starter Yu Darvish on Sunday creates some matchup issues that could lead to some changes.

Walker’s availability adds another factor.

UP NEXT

Drey Jameson will start his third game of the season Sunday. He threw 3.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in his most recent start as he continue to stretch back out.

First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

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