Merrill Kelly Shines as Diamondbacks Top Brewers to End Losing Streak

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Diamondbacks 5, Brewers 1

PHOENIX, June 21 — The club-record 17-game losing streak is over. Thanks to a tremendous outing by Merrill Kelly, the Arizona Diamondbacks downed the Milwaukee Brewers, 5–1 Monday night. The Diamondbacks smacked nine hits and walked six times to pace the day offensively.

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The Brewers opened a 1–0 first-inning lead on a leadoff double by Kolten Wong and RBI single by Avisail Garcia. Anderson responded with a 1-2-3 shutdown inning in the bottom of the first. Luis Urias singled to lead off the second for the Brewers, but a 6-4-3 double play wiped out that threat.

Diamondbacks Use Singles to Jump Ahead of Brewers

The bottom of the second saw the Diamondbacks bat around and put three runs on the board. It came from a merry-go-round of singles. Christian Walker, Josh Reddick, Pavin Smith, Nick Ahmed, and Stephen Vogt, in order, notched the hits. Both Smith and Vogt drove in a run on theirs. Vogt would have, also, but a fine throw from right field by Garcia nabbed Smith by a narrow margin. After Kelly walked to reload the bases, Ketel Marte drove Ahmed in with a single. Strikeouts by Josh Rojas and Asdrubal Cabrera ended the inning, but not before the Diamondbacks took a 3–1 lead.

In the midst of that inning, Anderson left the game with right knee discomfort. Some in the stands were confused as they saw the umpiring crew check Anderson thoroughly for foreign substances as he left the field, but Anderson passed the inspection. It turned out that Anderson suffered a bone bruise in his knee when he stepped on first awkwardly while running out the inning-ending double play in the second.

The lead increased to 5–1 in the fourth. A leadoff walk by Vogt and sacrifice bunt by Kelly set the table for Marte. His single put runners on the corners for Rojas, who drove Vogt in with a double. An RBI grounder to short by Asdrubal Cabrera plated Marte for the second run of the inning.

Kelly Shuts the Brewers Down

Between the fifth and seventh, Kelly only allowed two baserunners. One came via a one-out double in the fifth by center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. The other came on a one-out single in the seventh by shortstop Willy Adames. Kelly left the game after seven with a 5–1 lead.

The Diamondbacks threatened to tack on some runs in the eighth. With runners on second and third with one out, Marte hit a broken-bat atom ball to second. He threw home to retire Vogt for the second out. Rojas, up next, hit a soft liner to shallow right, but Kolten Wong ran to his left from second base to make a fine running catch.

Embattled closer Joakim Soria came on to pitch the ninth, but he hardly broke a sweat. After two quick outs, Willy Adames grinded out a seven-pitch at-bat. Soria ultimately prevailed as Adames lofted a high fly to center. When Marte squeezed the final out, the crowd erupted. Finally — the losing streak was over.

Postgame Smiles

Diamondbacks Manager Torey Lovullo was all smiles after the game when describing how it felt to snap the losing streak. “I can’t describe the feeling. Before the game, I told you that you have no idea what’s going on inside that clubhouse on a daily basis and the pain we were feeling after a game. It’s a good feeling to know that we did enough right. We did things our way and won a baseball game. There’s excitement in that clubhouse. It is well-deserved, and it’s a night where a lot of people inside this organization are going to have a good night’s rest. And they deserve it. We all deserve it.”

Taking the Team on His Shoulders

Merrill Kelly was terrific in his outing. In seven innings, he allowed one run on five hits and one walk. The only inning where he allowed more than one baserunner was the first. Lovullo praised Kelly, saying, “He just makes pitches. That’s all he wants to do. He wants to stay on the mound as long as possible and make pitches. (Kelly) is so observant and aware. The general feeling is that we gave up an early run, and he stopped that little run that they were on…. Nothing speeds up on him, and he was in control of that situation.”

Kelly was “happy” with his outing. “Not only for me,” he said, “but for the team. There’s a great energy in the clubhouse. We needed it.” Kelly gave credit to his teammates. “It wasn’t just me — it was a team effort. We put up five runs. Like I said, it feels great right now. I’m glad to end the streak. It’s definitely more fun winning than losing.” He credited catcher Stephen Vogt for his role in the victory as well. “We were on the same page most of the day — had a good game plan going in and executed it really well.”

Kelly also contributed offensively, going 0-for-1 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt, drawing praise from catcher Stephen Vogt. The bunt later led to a run scoring. “For me, any time I’m on first base is a win,” Kelly said. “Any time I can contribute to the team in ways other than pitching — it feels a lot better getting on first base than it does walking back to the dugout.”

A Proud Catcher

Stephen Vogt grinned ear to ear during his entire postgame interview. “It’s nice to smile walking into this room,” he said. “It was sheer joy (in the clubhouse after the game). We’ve been working so hard, fighting and clawing. (Sunday), losing another heartbreaker (after) battling back, but that gave us a lot of momentum going into today.” After praising his pitcher, looking much like a proud relative while doing so, he continued. “Today was a great win. We played phenomenal on all three sides of the ball. The sheer joy of feeling that win — there’s nothing better than winning in the big leagues. Tonight, we did it. Hopefully, we’ll go out tomorrow and do it again.”

According to Vogt, Kelly’s mix was “outstanding. His cutter was the best it’s been all year. It was probably the best it’s been since early 2020. He was getting called strikes, swings and misses, weak contact — you name it. The changeup was phenomenal, and the fastball command was phenomenal.” Vogt said that after he and Kelly had the pregame meeting with pitching coach Matt Herges, Herges looked at both of them and said, “It stops tonight.” Vogt continued, “Merrill looked at him and said, ‘Yes, it does.’ And then he went out and backed that up.”

The Diamondbacks, in control most of the game, only had one extra-base hit out of their nine. Vogt commented, “Teams that win find ways to win on any given night. You’re not always going to have the three-run homer or the big bases-clearing double. Those aren’t always going to happen. It’s manufacturing runs, passing the baton to the next guy.”

Looking Ahead

The Diamondbacks and Brewers face off in the second game of the three-game series Tuesday night at 6:40 Arizona Time. Freddy Peralta (6–2, 2.28 ERA) will take the hill for the Brewers against Zac Gallen of the Diamondbacks (1–2, 3.99 ERA).

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Players/managers mentioned:
Merrill Kelly, Kolten Wong, Avisail Garcia, Luis Urias, Christian Walker, Josh Reddick, Pavin Smith, Nick Ahmed, Stephen Vogt, Ketel Marte, Josh Rojas, Asdrubal Cabrera, Willy Adames, Joakim Soria, Torey Lovullo, Matt Herges, Freddy Peralta, Zac Gallen