|Andrew Benintendi - LF||Jarrod Dyson - CF|
|Xander Bogaerts - SS||Eduardo Escobar - 3B|
|Mitch Moreland - 1B||David Peralta - LF|
|J.D. Martinez - RF||Adam Jones - RF|
|Rafael Devers - 3B||Christian Walker - 1B|
|Blake Swihart - C||Ketel Marte - 2B|
|Eduardo Nunez - 2B||Nick Ahmed - SS|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. - CF||John Ryan Murphy - C|
|Hector Velazquez - RHP||Merrill Kelly - RHP|
The D-backs enter the series finale against the Red Sox, having won the first two games in diverging fashion. The opener was a blowout (at least, until Matt Koch showed up), the offense pounding their way to victory. But last night’s required the team to show resilience, coming back from three runs down, then blowing a lead themselves, before walking it off - only after first having the winning run thrown out at the plate. It’s safe to say that before this series, especially with our #3-5 starters taking the mound, we’d likely all have been more than happy to settle for taking two of three. In that light, this afternoon’s result is a bit irrelevant. But it would certainly be nice to complete the sweep.
We knew going in that the April schedule would be tough, and even if the reigning World Series champions have started the season horribly, these are still wins we probably did not expect to have. Arizona is already guaranteed at least to go .500 through a tough first ten games, and the 6-4 record a win here would give would be impressive - especially after starting off 1-3. To do that, we’ll see whether Merrill Kelly can follow up the quality start he gave us in his major-league debut, and also how the offense will handle things in the absence of one of its most productive members thus far, Alex Avila. I know many people wanted Arizona to have just the two catchers. Just not this way.
Kelly’s first outing was a solid demonstration in the art of pitching: mixing up your arsenal to keep the batters guessing, rather than blowing them away with pure stuff. He’s going to need to keep doing that. And it’s probably going to become harder, as the amount of information and video on Merrill available to opposing hitters increases. You could even see that in his first start, where the Padres went 1-for-8 with a walk the first and second times they saw Kelly - then 3-for-7, the third time through the order, including a home-run and a double. Something to keep an eye on this afternoon again; maybe we’ll see Kelly and Jon Duplantier again tandem their way through this one?