Last night the Arizona Diamondbacks played probably their best game all season on both sides of the ball en route to a 9-to-0 stomping of the San Diego Padres. Optimism was high for this recapper with Merrill Kelly on the mound who has been a very strong #2 behind Zac Gallen. Despite out hitting the Padres tonight they would fall short of another victory.
Perhaps the biggest blessing of watching the D’backs this season is seeing a strong Zac Gallen start followed by an equally respectable Merrill Kelly outing. While maybe not as dominant, the pattern feels similar to Brandon Webb and Dan Haren nearly two decades ago. However, the Padres came out aggressive early against Kelly tonight. On the first at bat of the game, Trent Grisham nearly went for extra bases were it not for Corbin Carroll’s outstanding range to track the ball down in the right field corner.
Best catch I’ve seen yet from Corbin Carroll— Jack Sommers (@shoewizard59) April 23, 2023
Unfortunately for Kelly, Fernando Tatis Jr. (returning from his PED suspension last year) avoided that problem by hitting the ball over the fence in the opposite direction in the next at bat giving San Diego the immediate one run lead. Kelly retired Juan Soto on three pitches for the second out of the game and it appeared he would limit the damage there, but San Diego had other plans. Xander Bogaerts, the Padres top offensive performer so far this season, drew a two out walk and was doubled home by Matt Carpenter resulting in a two run first.
For the Padres, it was Joe Musgrove making his first start of the season after a weight room mishap in Spring Training kept him sidelined for a few weeks. Ketel Marte, Corbin Carroll, and Christian Walker strung together a trio of one out singles to cut the lead in half before Musgrove retired the next two batters on consecutive strikeouts.
After the first inning, Kelly would retire the next nine batters in a row that he faced including striking out 5 of six at one point giving the D’backs offense the opportunity to fight their way back into the game. They did just that in the third inning. With two outs, Carroll doubled to right field and Walker followed with a home run to left field giving the snakes the lead. Unfortunately, the offense went mostly silent after that unable to give Kelly and the bullpen additional run support.
Arizona’s one run lead held until the sixth inning which would prove to be Kelly’s last. Kelly loaded the bases to begin the sixth by sandwiching a single between two walks to the first three batters of that frame. Kyle Nelson took the call from the bullpen and had the tough task of facing pinch hitter Nelson Cruz. However, Nelson stood his ground and struck out Nelson and Jake Cronenworth to follow looking like he would be able to keep the lead intact. It wasn’t meant to be as Ha-Seong Kim singled to left field scoring two runs giving San Diego the one run lead. San Diego added their fifth and final run in the eighth inning on the way to securing the victory.
The only red comment of the evening came in the form of news from our minor league system. Despite the loss, it is hard not to be optimistic about the bright, young future of this ballclub. There is such a substantial amount of good talent in the farm system, and what we’re seeing at the Major League level is only the tip of the iceberg.