Well, I needed this, anyway. I spent six hours today in the local emergency room, being tended to for a broken foot that resulted from my ill-advised participation in a volleyball game with friends late yesterday afternoon. Pro tip: volleyball is a young person’s game. Anyway.
Even before my fun interactions with the medical profession, I was kind of dreading this one. I really knew nothing about DIamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly beyond snippets of his bio and the truly uninspiring numbers he put up in spring training, but I had watched the first four games of the season, and our starting pitching has been, in a word, terrible. Our offense hasn’t been good either, so I wasn’t looking forward to that either, really.
But I beached myself on the couch, turned on the game, and was pleasantly surprised. Adam Jones started the game with a towering leadoff home run to left.
Adam Jones crushes this one for his 4th home run in 8 games at Petco Park. The D-backs are off and runnin' on FOX Sports Arizona Plus or you can stream here: https://t.co/ZWZM7RwBMi #RattleOn pic.twitter.com/ykXxDLraVa— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) April 2, 2019
Now, I still don’t get why Adam Jones is batting leadoff, but hey, whatever. I’ll take it. We also picked up another run Wilmer Flores and David Peralta hit back-to-back doubles after an Eduardo Escobar foul out. Christian Walker then drew a walk, living up to his name now that I think about it. Then, sadly, Ketel Marte lined out sharply to right, and a Peralta TOOTBLAN allowed him to get doubled off second base. But still, hey. Runs!
The bottom of the first produced my first glimpse of Merrill Kelly in action, and, frankly, he made me nervous. Ian Kinsler rocketed a sharp liner to left on Kelly’s third pitch, but Peralta atoned for his TOOTBLAN sin with a very nice sliding catch. Eric Hosmer basically replicated the Kinsler at-bat, except that he hit it to center, where Marte made a very nice sliding catch. Then Kelly promptly walked Manny Machado on four pitches, which was in a sense understandable but which also did not inspire confidence. However, he did induce a groundout to Padres right fielded Franmil Reyes that Flroes collected for an unassisted out. So no snake blood was spilt. Also, unusually for the D-Backs’ starting staff this year, Kelly managed all that with only ten pitches thrown. 2-0 D-BACKS
And that’s going to be the end of my inning-by-inning score tracking, because, to make a long story short, we just kept piling on, while the Friars were pretty much unable to do anything with Kelly for the next four innings. We added on another run in the second on two walks and two singles, and then added on two more after that in the third with another Peralta double and singles by Marte and Avila. Meanwhile, Kelly finished the second with only 11 pitches thrown, and gave up his first hit, as well as another walk, in the third, but again, no harm was done (though that inning took a disappointing 21 pitches, putting him at 42 pitches through three).
I’m not entirely sure what happened in the fourth, as I needed to make my way outside to smoke a cigarette and that turns out to be a lot more time-consuming with crutches, but both sides went down in order (my scoresheet for that inning just reads “OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT”). We added another four runs in the fifth, though, on two doubles and two singles and a sort of bizarro E2 play on an Avila grounder to second and some seriously goo heads-up baserunning by Nick Ahmed. Meanwhile, Kelly pitched around a two-out single on a comebacker that bounced off either his glove or his ankle, and finished the fifth having thrown a mere 73 pitches.
The wheels came off a bit for Kelly in the sixth, his last inning of work, as Hosmer led off with a double to left that, honestly, Peralta misplayed, charging in a few steps on contact only to see the ball pass over his head as he charged back toward the left field wall. A Machado single followed, getting Hosmer to third. He was brought home by a Reyes sac fly to right. Then, with two outs, Padres shortstop and youth phenom Fernando Tatis, Jr. launched his own version of Adam Jones’s leadoff shot to left, and after recording a final out, Kelly ended with 6IP, 3ER. If Peralta had read the Hosmer ball correctly, however, Kelly’s final line would have been a lot closer to what he deserved. He was stellar tonight.
And that? That was pretty much it. In retribution for the Padres breaking Kelly’s debut stutout, our boys tacked on another run in the top of the seventh, and then brought Jon Duplantier in to finish up the game, which he did with dispatch and aplomb, recording a 3-inning save in a 10-3 game in his first appearance in the majors. He’s another I hadn’t seen before, and I gotta say, he looked damn good. Anyway.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Cats: Adam Jones, +14.3%
Dogs: Merrill Kelly, +13.4%
Weevils: Wilmer Flores, -4.7%
Sadly, the roll call still seems to be down. We are currently at 526 comments, which is frankly astounding for a Monday night game. I know it’s the first Monday of the regular season, but still. Well done, people! And hooray that it was actually a happy game to watch, because those were in shortish supply during the first series. Tomorrow we see Zack Greinke facing off (and hopefully bouncing back after his rocky opening day start) against Padres lefty Eric Lauer. 7:10pm first pitch. Let’s see if we can get the first series win out of the way!