ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Cramping issues reappear for D-backs’ Merrill Kelly in win vs. Rockies

Sep 4, 2023, 5:29 PM | Updated: Sep 5, 2023, 7:36 am

Merrill Kelly (2nd L) #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks leaves the game during the eighth inning agai...

Merrill Kelly (2nd L) #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks leaves the game during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on September 04, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Diamondbacks won 4-2. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Merrill Kelly gave the Arizona Diamondbacks seven innings with one earned run and 12 strikeouts in a 4-2 win against the Colorado Rockies on Monday at Chase Field.

D-backs (71-67) manager Torey Lovullo turned to assistant pitching coach Dan Carlson in the third inning and said, “He has no-hitter stuff.”

Kelly did not allow a knock until one out in the fifth inning and struck out 12 of 24 batters faced through seven frames.

He got Rockies (50-87) first baseman Elehuris Montero to whiff at the first pitch in the eighth, but that was the end of the line.

Lovullo, pitching coach Brent Strom and the athletic trainer went to the mound, and Kelly screamed into his glove while coming off the field. Monday was Kelly’s third-straight home start in which he left early with cramping in his right hamstring. This has not been an issue on the road this season.

“I’m probably the most frustrated in a seven-inning, 12-punch out win that you’re probably ever gonna see me,” Kelly said. “At this point, I feel like I’m just beating my head against the wall. But we got the win today, that’s what matters.”

Kevin Ginkel entered and finished off Montero with a strikeout to open a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Paul Sewald picked up the save, although he allowed a run on a double by catcher Elias Diaz.

The D-backs built a 4-0 lead early off Rockies starter Peter Lambert. Corbin Carroll tripled in Geraldo Perdomo in the third inning, his league-leading ninth three-bagger of the year.

Gabriel Moreno’s RBI single and Jace Peterson’s two-run double in the fourth inning widened the lead, although the D-backs failed to further tack on insurance runs. Arizona’s hitters went 0-for-15 after the double.

Merrill Kelly’s gem

Kelly had everything working before exiting the game, getting multiple whiffs on five different pitches.

The Rockies swung at 30 fastballs, cutters and sliders to only put four into play, according to Statcast. The slider continues to be a welcome addition to his arsenal.

“We just couldn’t solve the mix, the the in and out, a couple strikeouts up … but a lot of pitches at the bottom that had action,” Rockies manager Bud Black said postgame. “Out of the hand they look like strikes, then they dive. We just couldn’t dig them out.”

Kelly’s 12 strikeouts tied a career high.

He was efficient at 75 pitches through six innings and 90 over seven. Colorado’s first two hits in the fifth inning were broken-bat singles.

The veteran has had success at home despite the cramps, having allowed one run over his last 23 innings pitched at Chase Field.

Merrill Kelly’s cramping issue

Kelly said he felt normal warming up in the eighth inning, and the cramp got him out of nowhere on the first pitch.

Each of his premature exits have come in the final three frames, which he called a small victory but said he disdains leaving games for reasons out of his control.

“We’re moving into really meaningful games,” Kelly said. “You guys have known me long enough that I’m trying to give our bullpen as many innings as I can and I don’t like leaving games early. … It’s just frustrating.”

Kelly said it feels hot out on the mound, and as someone who sweats a lot, he had to change his jersey after the fourth inning. He said he’s sweating more at Chase Field than other parks.

The starter and nutrition staff have tried to alter his hydration habits to fix the issue.

Both Kelly and Lovullo said there remains an element of mystery regarding the cramps, with the manager pointing to humidity in the stadium being a potential factor.

Kelly spent over a month on the injured list this season with a blood clot in his right calf, but he claimed after a previous cramp that the issues are unrelated.

Pfaadt’s next

Brandon Pfaadt will make his first career start against the Rockies on Tuesday, while Colorado will turn to veteran southpaw Kyle Freeland.

Freeland has allowed eight earned runs in 11.2 innings this season against the D-backs.

First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com. 

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