July 7, 2022

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Castellanos, Kelly and bullpen strong in 'statement win'

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PHOENIX — The D-backs beat the Mets, 5-2, on Saturday night behind a nice performance from starter Humberto Castellanos, four shutout innings from the bullpen and a season-high 11 hits.

“To me, it was one of those statement wins where we did a lot of things more on the right side of the ledger than we did on the wrong side,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.

Here are some takeaways from the game:

Castellanos likely gets another start
When he named Castellanos on Friday as his starter for Saturday’s game, Lovullo declined to say that the right-hander was a permanent member of the rotation. Instead, he said everyone was going to have to prove something every time out.

Castellanos certainly made a strong case for another start when he allowed just two runs over five innings.

He mixed his pitches well, throwing more sliders than usual, to keep the Mets off balance.

“I thought he was awesome,” center fielder Daulton Varsho said. “Five innings with two runs. I mean, he does what he does, [uses] two different slots and just keeps throwing the ball over the plate.”

This could be a game that gets Carson Kelly going
It’s no secret that it’s been a rough start to the year for Kelly, the D-backs starting backstop and someone they are counting on to be a big contributor on offense.

Kelly came into the game with just two hits in his first 32 at-bats, but managed a pair of singles in four at-bats.

They weren’t necessarily hard-hit balls, but when a player is struggling, sometimes a hit of any kind can get them going.

“He was in a better spot today,” Lovullo said. “I felt like his hands were in the right place and his legs and feet were in the right place where he could put the barrel on the baseball. So getting some hits today I know was something that will be a great relief to him. And we need Carson.”

Matchups are more important than roles in the bullpen
Lovullo was going to stay away from using closer Mark Melancon after the right-hander had appeared in each of the past two games.

That seemingly would have meant that setup man Ian Kennedy would get the call in the ninth inning to close out the win, and that was one possible scenario that the coaching staff considered as the game moved along.

The key was going to be matchups, not designated roles, and they felt Kennedy matched up better against the heart of the Mets order — Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Eduardo Escobar.

So when the eighth inning rolled around and those were the hitters due up for the Mets, it was Kennedy that got that inning.

Then with three lefties scheduled to bat in the ninth, Lovullo used left-hander Joe Mantiply to close it out.

The Mets wound up pinch-hitting a pair of righties for Robinson Canó and Jeff McNeil, so Mantiply ended up facing just one lefty, but he retired all three hitters in order to pick up his first career big league save.

You don’t see two runners hit by batted balls in the same game very often
While taking a lead off first base in the fifth, Seth Beer was hit by Pavin Smith’s grounder resulting in him being out and Smith being credited with a base hit.

Lovullo argued the call because according to the rule, a runner cannot be called for interference after the ball has passed by a fielder. The ball had gotten by the glove of Alonso at first as he was playing in front of Beer.

However, Lovullo was told by the umpiring crew that in their opinion second baseman Canó may have had a shot at the ball.

It’s a play that happens infrequently in baseball, but two innings later, Canó was hit by a ball off the bat of McNeil while leading off second base.

“I feel like that’s something that happens maybe once a year,” D-backs first baseman Christian Walker said. “I heard the umpire say the same thing. So everybody was aware of how odd that was. But you know, just another baseball thing, you know?”

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