December 5, 2022

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Missing best stuff, Kelly grinds through 5

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PHOENIX — The D-backs seemed primed for a come-from-behind win when Jordan Luplow hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the eighth to tie the game at 3, but an ugly ninth inning in which the Marlins scored eight times led to an 11-3 loss at Chase Field.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Wednesday, he felt good warming up and proceeded to give up three runs in the first two innings.

“Baseball’s a funny game,” Kelly said.

Kelly came into the game with a 1.22 ERA, second best in the National League and third in all of baseball among qualifiers, and while he didn’t get the results he wanted Wednesday, he did find a way to last five innings without giving up any more runs.

“I was happy with that,” Kelly said. “Look up and [I’ve thrown] 50 pitches through two, so I was happy that I was able to keep [us] in the game.”

Getting through five was something the D-backs needed, with relievers Joe Mantiply and Keynan Middleton unavailable due to a stomach bug.

“It wasn’t an easy day for Merrill,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I thought he was just grinding from the first inning on, but he managed to get on a roll in innings three, four and five, which [helped because] we were a little short in the bullpen today.”

2. Mark Melancon will remain the closer
The D-backs are 4-2 so far on this nine-game homestand, and both of the losses have been charged to Melancon, who gave up four runs (three earned) while trying to protect a 1-0 lead Saturday.

Wednesday, Melancon entered in the ninth after Luplow’s homer in the bottom of the eighth tied the game at 3. The right-hander allowed four runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

“I just think he’s not commanding his cutter as good as we’ve seen him or as good as he expects,” Lovullo said. “And it’s putting him in a situation where he’s maybe got to back off a bit and put it a little bit more in the middle of the plate. He’s close, he’s very close, but it all comes down to command with him.”

Lovullo was asked if he was considering giving Melancon a break from the closer’s role while he works on commanding his cutter. The short answer is no.

“We’re not there,” Lovullo said. “We’re going to let him work through it and throw some bullpens. He’s an easy bet to figure it out.”

3. The D-backs are still in a good spot on the homestand
The series with the Marlins ended poorly, but the D-backs still feel very good about where they are right now. Sitting 4-2 on the homestand, they have the struggling Cubs coming in for three games before they have to hit the road again.

The NL West is tough — the D-backs’ 17-15 record still leaves them in fourth place, ahead of only the Rockies. But after starting out 3-8, they will take where they are right now.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Kelly said. “You know, obviously the division is what it is. But if we’re over .500; that means we’re winning more than we’re losing. So overall, I think we’re in a really good spot, the pitching has been really good, offense is coming around, obviously we play defense. So I think we’re in a solid spot, and just keep it rolling.”

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