Merrill Kelly tosses another gem before ejection in Diamondbacks’ win over Athletics
May 15, 2023, 9:56 PM | Updated: 10:44 pm
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Merrill Kelly thought for sure Jordan Díaz had swung, and the Arizona pitcher was expecting to add another strikeout to his stellar start.
If the call had gone his way, maybe Kelly would have been able to stay in for the complete game he wanted so badly.
Instead, Díaz drew a walk and the Diamondbacks’ dugout went berserk before Arizona beat the Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Monday night.
Manager Torey Lovullo got tossed by first base umpire Brock Ballou for arguing a check swing, then when Kelly got removed by bench coach Jeff Banister after the next batter, the pitcher gestured toward the baserunner and was ejected, too — for the first time in his life.
“I thought that was a terrible call. I thought it was a very, very obvious swing,” Kelly said. “I’ve seen the video of it; in my mind it was a very obvious swing. At that time that guy’s got one job to do and that’s the only thing he’s got to pay attention to right there. Missed it and it lost me a strikeout and probably what led to me coming out of that game.”
Geraldo Perdomo hit a two-run homer in the second inning and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. added a two-run shot in the third to back Kelly’s third straight win.
The A’s drew an announced crowd of 2,064, their smallest for a home game fans were allowed to attend since drawing 1,037 against Texas on Sept. 19, 1979.
Arizona (24-18) moved six games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2019 season at 85-77. Ketel Marte singled in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. Kelly (4-3) struck out nine while pitching into the eighth and is unbeaten in four starts since a loss to San Diego on April 22.
Banister took over for Lovullo, and Oakland had the potential tying run at the plate against Miguel Castro. He took over when Kelly allowed the walk and Nick Allen’s single — but the reliever got out of it.
Lovullo said it was important he ran out to be the one to get ejected even though there was lots of chatter coming from the D-backs side. He planned to talk to the umpiring crew before the series resumes, saying: “I’m not proud of it.”
“I lost my composure there a little bit, but I’m hashing it,” he said. “I want plays called the right way. I felt very strongly that it was a full swing. He dumped me from the dugout.”
Former A’s reliever Andrew Chafin finished for his sixth save.
The D-backs jumped on A’s starter Drew Rucinski (0-4), who matched his season high with five walks in his fifth career start. Oakland’s night was highlighted by Jace Peterson’s home run leading off the eighth and Esteury Ruiz’s RBI single in the third.
Corbin Carroll added a sacrifice fly for Arizona, which won its fourth straight after a three-game losing streak and built some momentum following three consecutive comeback wins at home against San Francisco.
The A’s, whose 9-34 record is the worst in MLB, earlier in the day announced an agreement with Bally’s and Gaming & Leisure Properties and plan to build a ballpark on the Tropicana hotel site along the Las Vegas Strip.
Lovullo became somewhat nostalgic being back at the Coliseum, remembering fondly his chance to get back to the majors with Oakland under manager Art Howe in 1996.
“Every time I come back here it’s kind of a soft spot for me, I like playing in this stadium, there was tremendous fan support,” Lovullo said. “And Art Howe was a good man and gave me an opportunity to get back to the big leagues, I’ll never forget that. I had a great time here. I had almost a full year here. I’ll never forget that. The thing I’ll remember most is that big thing was being built in center field, Mt. Davis was being built and we had to start the season in Las Vegas.”
– Diamondbacks 1B Christian Walker got a day off as Lovullo aims to find some rest days for his regulars.
– RHP Zach Davies (strained left oblique) threw 52 pitches over four innings in an extended spring training game and reported feeling great. He’s likely to make at least one more appearance or pitch in a minor league game.
LHP Tommy Henry (1-1, 4.43 ERA) pitches Tuesday night for the Diamondbacks in his first career start against any AL West opponent, and the A’s counter with fellow lefty Kyle Muller (1-3, 7.34).
First pitch is slated for 6:40 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.