Alek Thomas goes deep on 1st swing of return in D-backs win vs. Brewers
Jun 19, 2023, 6:33 PM | Updated: 9:23 pm
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
That was quite the welcome back for Alek Thomas.
The Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder spent the past month in Triple-A Reno after a cold start offensively, but his first game back on Monday began with a deep drive to right.
Thomas capped a six-run first inning off Milwaukee Brewers ace and 2021 Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes with a 412-foot home run to the second deck. It was his first swing since getting recalled on Monday, and it helped the D-backs open the road trip with a 9-1 win.
— MLB (@MLB) June 20, 2023
Thomas did so without much rest, as the 23-year-old landed in Chicago at 4 a.m. Monday morning to make it to Milwaukee before the game, manager Torey Lovullo told Bally Sports Arizona.
Lovullo addressed Thomas’ outlook last weekend, explaining that the best version of the 2023 Diamondbacks has him patrolling center field.
For the first time since April, Thomas, Corbin Carroll and Jake McCarthy started together, reuniting the “No Fly Zone” behind starter Merrill Kelly.
“We need him because of what he brings to us defensively but he’s also a really good hitter,” Lovullo told reporters on Friday. “Once he gets there, he’s going to be a really good baseball player for a long time.”
Thomas slashed .195/.252/.327 in 123 plate appearances with Arizona before getting optioned on May 17.
He owned a respectable .797 OPS against righties but was 1-for-36 against left-handed pitchers in that stint.
“I think things are starting to click a little bit right now,” Thomas said postgame. “We’ll see if we can just keep on keeping on.”
Thomas singled in his second at-bat back with the club and came around to score to give Arizona a 7-1 lead. He finished the game 2-for-4.
He was one of four players with multiple hits along with McCarthy, Christian Walker and lead-off man Geraldo Perdomo, who also had a pair of walks.
Corbin Carroll homered in the ninth inning, going the opposite way. He has nine homers in his last 25 games, as he continues to build an All-Star starter case.
“We came in here ready to go, make some statements,” Lovullo said postgame. “When you get six runs off that type of quality starting pitcher, you know that your team is ready to go. I was very proud of them.”
Kelly silences Milwaukee
Kelly gave the D-backs needed depth in his start, pitching seven innings with one earned run.
He avoided barrels throughout his start, allowing only three hits while producing 13 whiffs and seven strikeouts.
Merrill Kelly, Painted Fastballs. 🖌️🎨 pic.twitter.com/hLRSqzet9w
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 20, 2023
Kelly is on an impressive run of starts with a 2.62 ERA in his last seven outings.
He threw 88 pitches on Monday.
Kelly has been particularly effective on the road. He has gone 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in seven road starts since the start of the season, though he struggles to explain why he’s been so sharp away from home.
“I don’t think I’d be able to pinpoint one thing, whether it’s the routine or whether it’s just having a little bit more time,” Kelly said. “I honesty probably couldn’t put my finger on that. I just try to treat every game the same. Just for whatever reason, the ball’s kind of bounced in my favor a little bit more on the road than it has at home.”
D-backs DH Lourdes Gurriel Jr. kept himself occupied in between at-bats on Monday with sand castles. Well, dirt castles.
Sandcastles in the saaaaaand. pic.twitter.com/Cn8nvo5KK0
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) June 20, 2023
Perhaps the game could be best summed up with the video of Gurriel’s castle versus this one of the sausage race:
Check out this replay of the Brewers facing Merrill Kelly today. pic.twitter.com/PQMXtFSoUb
— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) June 20, 2023
The D-backs will play for a second straight series win on Tuesday evening at 5:10 p.m.
Ryne Nelson (5.30 ERA) will start for Arizona against Milwaukee’s Colin Rea (4.71 ERA).
Catch the game on ESPN 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.