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Diamondbacks 3, Royals 5: Merrill’s perils, Green feels blue

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Merrill Kelly sliced his ERA to less than one-third of what it was. That’s the good news...

MLB: Spring Training-Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 5-4-2. Change on 2018: +2. 5-inning record: 5-3-3.

I guess Merrill Kelly’s second start as a Diamondbacks went a little better than his first. Though he has still yet to get through a complete inning without allowing at least three runs... at least he DID get through a complete inning. Considering his first appearance lasted one out, this is progress. He was staked to a 1-0 lead tonight at Surprise, 1B Jake Lamb driving in CF Ketel Marte [yeah, I’m still getting used to some phrases...] with a double. Kelly got the first out, but the Royals then went triple, walk, RBI single to tie the game, and another walk loaded the bases. An error by Wilmer Flores helped bring across two runs, though a subsequent errant Kelly pickoff proved inconsequential.

The D-backs took advantage of some sloppiness to their own benefit, as 3B Wyatt Mathisen reached on an error, and scored courtesy of DH Ildemaro Vargas’s two-run double, tying the score at three in the top of the second. There was a zero posted by Arizona pitchers in the bottom half, but Kelly wasn’t around to see the end of it, being lifted with two outs. His final line: three runs, two earned, over 1.2 innings on two hits and three walks, with one strikeout. Not a great performance, though there’s some suggestion that he was getting squeezed on the corners of the strike-zone by home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott. Still, an ERA of 22.50 and a K:BB of 1:4 through two starts is concerning.

He was replaced by Nick Green, our Rule 5 pick who had impressed initially, with five scoreless innings. Tonight? Not so much, as he also seemed to have control issues (or Wolcott was operating with a gnat’s sphincter strike-zone, which is possible. It’s spring training for everyone). He walked four of the ten batters he faced, allowing two runs in 1.1 innings, on two hits, with a pair of strikeouts. With Silvino Bracho apparently crossed off the Opening Day roster, another good outing could have put Green in excellent shape for that spot. Instead, it’s still up in the air.

The rest of the bullpen did pitch well. Robby Scott, Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano and Matt Koch combined for five shutout frames (Koch pitched two) of two-hit ball, with one walk and five strikeouts. However, our offense managed only one hit after the fifth inning: Vargas and Marte each had a pair of hits, with the former now batting .455 for the spring. With Kelby Tomlinson still seeking his first hit (0-for-12), Vargas may be making a case for the last spot on the bench. Tomorrow, it’s another road game, but back to during the day. Robbie Ray starts against the Brewers in the new and improved Maryvale Stadium.