Diamondbacks Relievers Blow Another One, This Time to Giants

Giants Diamondbacks

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4 (10)

PHOENIX, Aug. 5 — A ninth-inning meltdown by Taylor Clarke and Tyler Clippard wasted a gem from Merrill Kelly, giving the San Francisco Giants a 5–4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kelly threw eight scoreless innings and Pavin Smith went 2-for-3 with three RBI, but it was not enough to win the Thursday afternoon affair.

The Diamondbacks scored two early runs off Giants starter Alex Wood. Shortstop Nick Ahmed — who entered the game batting .294/.375/.506 against lefties — ripped a leadoff hustle double to center. After center fielder Ketel Marte flied to center, catcher Carson Kelly and first baseman Christian Walker drew consecutive walks. That loaded the bases for right fielder Pavin Smith, who had just returned from contact-tracing protocol. Smith’s single up the middle scored both Ahmed and Kelly, giving the Diamondbacks a 2–0 lead.

Diamondbacks Take Lead over Giants

The lead grew in the third. Kelly, Walker, Smith, and rookie third baseman Drew Ellis opened the inning with four consecutive singles. Smith’s plated Kelly from second, making the score 3–0. Second baseman Jake Hager, up next, drew a bases-loaded walk, making the score 4–0. Wood struck out the next two hitters — left fielder Daulton Varsho and Merrill Kelly — before getting Ahmed to ground into an inning-ending 6–4 force play.

Meanwhile, Kelly shut the Giants down inning after inning. He only allowed two baserunners in the first four innings, and both came in the second. The first was a one-out infield single by shortstop Brandon Crawford, and the other was a two-out walk by first baseman Brandon Belt. Kelly only allowed three other baserunners in his outing. One came on a two-out fifth-inning double by catcher Curt Casali, the only extra-base hit Kelly allowed. The other two came on a two-out sixth-inning single by center fielder Kris Bryant and a one-out seventh-inning walk by second baseman Donovan Solano.

Relievers Waste Kelly’s Gem

Clarke took the hill for the Diamondbacks in the ninth. It was his first outing since June 14 against these same Giants. He had a rude welcome. Clarke gave up a double to Bryant, a single to left fielder Alex Dickerson, and an RBI double by Crawford before getting pulled without recording an out.

In came Clippard with two runners in scoring position and Wednesday night’s hero — Solano — at the plate. Clippard hit him on an 0–2 pitch, losing control of a splitter. This loaded the bases for Belt, who plated Dickerson with a single to right. Pinch-hitters Buster Posey and Wilmer Flores struck out and flied to right, respectively. This brought up Lamont Wade Jr. as the last hope for the Giants. After an eight-pitch at-bat, Wade lined a game-tying single to right, scoring Crawford and pinch-runner Steven Duggar.

Giants Win It in Extras

Second baseman Tommy La Stella started the 10th on second base as the automatic runner. He scored when Bryant led off with a double off Tyler Gilbert, giving the Giants a 5–4 lead. Jake McGee took the mound in the bottom of the inning. After Walker fanned, Smith advanced Peralta to third with a 6–3 groundout. That brought up Ellis, whose fly to the warning track in right-center ended the game and gave the Giants a 5–4 victory.

Postgame Reflections

Kelly was “happy” with his performance. “I had all my pitches for strikes, which was a big key. My changeup has (also) been continually getting better and better, so I’m happy about that. Obviously, I would have liked to get a team W, but they’re a good team, and they’re hard to keep down for nine innings,” he said.

Kelly felt that he could have pitched the ninth. “It was kind of a weird feeling today. It might be because it was a day game, but I had an overwhelming calm about the game today. I definitely think I could have gone back out. The last pitch of the eighth inning was a 93 mile-per-hour cutter that was executed. So I definitely think I could have gotten three more outs for sure.”

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo, however, felt that sending him back out for the ninth “wasn’t worth it.” He continued, “We gotta remember what he’s walked through over the past 12 months. He had surgery last year. He’s been throwing the ball really, really well, but (after) 102 pitches, I felt like he did his job. It was time to turn it over to the bullpen.”

Lovullo also said that Kelly had “an unbelievable outing,” saying, “Eight scoreless, gets through the order for that fourth time — (it) set us up for a really good opportunity to win this baseball game. He did his job in an unbelievable way by attacking the zone (and) by using a great mixture of pitches. I know there were some times where he may have gotten into some trouble — I can’t really remember right now. But he was in total control of this game, from the first pitch he threw until the last.”

Looking Ahead

The Giants improved their record to 69–40, extending their division lead to four games, while the Diamondbacks fell to 34–76. Rogers (3–1) took the win in relief, while Gilbert (0–1) took the relief loss. McGee notched his 24th save with his scoreless 10th inning.

The Giants will now head to Milwaukee for a crucial three-game series against the first-place Brewers (65–44), while the Diamondbacks will play a three-gamer on the road against the San Diego Padres (62–48).

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players mentioned:

Taylor Clarke, Tyler Clippard, Merrill Kelly, Pavin Smith, Alex Wood, Nick Ahmed, Ketel Marte, Carson Kelly, Christian Walker, Drew Ellis, Jake Hager, Daulton Varsho, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Curt Casali, Kris Bryant, Donovan Solano, Alex Dickerson, Buster Posey, Wilmer Flores, Lamont Wade Jr., Steven Duggar, Tommy La Stella, Tyler Gilbert, Jake McGee, Torey Lovullo

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