The Dbacks came back from deficits of 3-0 and 5-3 to win a slugfest 10-7 in front of 6,646 fans at Sal River Field today.
The fans were barely settling into their seats when Merrill Kelly’s debut outing with the Diamondbacks started to go awry. Indians centerfielder Greg Allen greeted his first offering, a 93 MPH fast ball, by ripping it into the Left Centerfield gap for a stand up double. After issuing a walk, Kelly then surrendered an RBI base hit by Jose Ramirez into Right Field on the 8th pitch of the at bat. An RBI groundout by Matt Joyce was followed by a Kevin Plawecki double which was a line shot ripped down the left field line, scoring Ramirez.
And just like that Torey Luvullo was out to the mound and pulling Kelly from the game. In all he threw 27 pitches, and retired just one batter. His Fastball Velocity ranged between 91-93, and he struggled with his command throughout the short outing. After the game Torey indicated that Kelly might have had a little anxiety or been a little too excited making his first start for the team.
Riley Smith relieved Kelly and got the last two outs of the inning without incident . In the bottom of the first, the DBacks got right to work. With Chih-Wei Hu starting for the Indians, Matt Szczur and Illdemaro Vargas opened the hitting with singles. This was followed by a Wilmer Flores HBP, loading the bases for Christian Walker. It’s at this point I would normally insert a video, and it’s too bad there isn’t one available, as Walker hit a deep line drive over the head of the Indians Right Fielder, reaching the 390 mark on the RCF wall on one hop, clearing the bases in process. After Steven Souza was caught looking at a pitch 6 inches off the plate for strike 3, (Hey, it’s spring training for the umps too) Carson Kelly got his first hit as a Diamondback, knocking a pitch over the right fielder’s head as well, scoring Walker with a double of his own. That would be all for Hu. The first of many Cleveland relievers came on, and was greeted by an Abraham Almonte single to score Kelly before finally striking out Andy Young to end the inning, with the Dbacks leading 5-3
The two starters combined to record 2 outs, and allow 8 runs on 7 hits a walk and a HBP. The frame took 50 minutes to complete. So much for pace of play ;)
Matt Koch made his first appearance of spring, and it too was a shaky one , as he walked a batter and hit a batter and gave up a couple of hard hit balls. However he got out of the inning when Almonte made a nice grab on a deep fly to the wall by Jose Ramirez. He got turned around a bit and the ball was in the sun, but he stayed with it to make the catch as he smashed into the wall.
The Indians scored a run off of Andrew Chafin in the 3rd on a couple of hard hit balls, but he didn’t walk anyone. The DBacks meanwhile were held scoreless in the 2nd and 3rd innings. Come the top of the 4th, Silvino Bracho came on to pitch. He induced a groundball to 3rd, but Kelby Tomlinson made a poor throw over to first and Walker was not able to dig it out of the dirt, allowing Eric Stametz to reach on an error. A couple of strikeouts and a base hit by Greg Allen brought Jose Ramirez to the plate with 2 on and 2 out. Nobody was going to catch his next smash, as he hit a towering blast down the right field line just inside the foul pole for a 3 run homer, making it 7-5 Indians.
The DBacks threatened with a couple of hits in the 4th by Almonte and Andrew Young, but Tomlinson hit into a 5-4-3 DP effectively ending the threat. The 5th inning for the Dbacks would be a different story however. The lineup would string together 5 hits and a walk scoring 3 runs in the process. , giving the DBacks an 8-7 lead in the see saw battle.
Meanwhile, Nick Green had come on to pitch the 5th, and he would prove to be the most effective pitcher of the day, allowing just a walk and a single, with 2 K’s in three scoreless innings. It was during Green’s outing that I was able to get together with edbigghead and also meet AZPerson for the first time, enjoying some great baseball talk.
The DBacks plated 2 more insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th. Base hits by Kevin Cron and Jazz Chisholm got things going. After they were advanced to 2nd and 3rd by Domingo Leyba’s groundout, Yasmany Tomas laced a single to right for 2 RBI, to finish off the scoring for the day.
In all the DBacks swung the bats quite well today, totaling 15 hits enroute to their 10 runs. They did only draw one walk while striking out 12 times though.
After the game, at ed’s suggestion, Torey was asked if Nick Green had put himself in a position to compete for for the 5th spot in the rotation. Said Torey:
“t’s hard to say at this point in time. We feel like we have a group of guys that are competing to make this team, whether it be out of the bullpen or out of the starting rotation. There’s spots that are open, and I want guys to go out and throw the baseball the best that they can and block everything else out. We know the circumstances with Nick and his particular case being a rule 5 guy....He’s either got to make the team or he might have a chance to move on elsewhere. We have to make some very tough key decisions but we like what we see out of him quite a big”
Decoding all of that, I did not get the sense that Kelly’s spot in the rotation is open at this time. If Green is going to make the team, it’s probably going to have to be as a reliever. But you never know. 3-4 weeks from now we will have seen a lot more from all of the pitchers and have a better feel for where this might land. If they REALLY like Green, they could always try to work out a trade with the Yankees rather than return him. Thats always a possibility.
The DBacks will host the Cubs tomorrow at 1:10 P.M. as the calendar flips to March.