Diamondbacks Bats Come Alive in Win over Tigers as Dallas Keuchel Returns to the Majors

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Diamondbacks 11, Tigers 7

PHOENIX, Jun 26 — The Arizona Diamondbacks clubbed a season-high 13 hits while drawing eight walks, defeating the Detroit Tigers, 11–7, Sunday afternoon. Diamondbacks right fielder Pavin Smith went 4-for-5 while left fielder David Peralta went 3-for-4 in the victory.

This game matched Tigers right hander Beau Brieske with the newest Diamondback, veteran left-hander and 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel. After a 1-2-3 first for both teams, the Tigers notched two in the second. With one out, first baseman Spencer Torkelson ripped a drive to left-center. Center fielder Daulton Varsho, who has a large range, couldn’t quite reach it, giving Torkelson a double. Catcher Eric Haase brought him home with a line-drive single to right. Haase scored when right fielder Willi Castro, up next, smashed a low liner. Geraldo Perdomo, the shortstop, dove to his left but couldn’t quite reach it. It rolled all the way to the fence for a triple.

Diamondbacks Tie It Up, See-Saw with Tigers Begins

Catcher Carson Kelly slashed the deficit to 2–1 with a leadoff home run in the third. Perdomo walked, and after a fly to center by third baseman Josh Rojas, Smith singled Perdomo to second. Designated hitter Ketel Marte also walked, loading the bases for first baseman Christian Walker. He crushed a screaming liner to left-center, a ball that seemed to be destined for a two-run or base-clearing double. Center fielder Riley Greene, however, had other ideas. On a dead sprint, Greene made a full-extension dive to his right, robbing Walker. Perdomo tagged and scored the tying run. Greene’s catch came a day after he made a diving catch in right-center to rob Buddy Kennedy of an extra-base hit. Peralta followed with a sharp liner to center, but it was easy work for Greene, who came in a few steps to make the inning-ending grab.

The Tigers retook the lead in the top of the fourth. A two-out single by second baseman Jonathan Schoop and follow-up walk by third baseman Harold Castro put runners on first and second for left fielder Robbie Grossman. His single to left brought Schoop home for the 3–2 lead.

The Diamondbacks responded in the bottom half, starting with a one-out single by Varsho and walk by Kelly. Perdomo popped to second, going down on the infield fly rule, before Rojas plated Varsho with a sharp single to center. Kelly reached third on the play, giving Brieske the hook and putting runners on the corners for Smith. It became second and third when new pitcher Alex Lange threw a wild pitch. Smith capitalized, stroking a two-run single up the middle that gave the Diamondbacks a 5–3 lead.

Tigers Briefly Take Lead

Keuchel left the game in the fifth after striking out designated hitter Miguel Cabrera and walking Greene. New pitcher J.B. Wendelken walked Torkelson before Haase blasted a no-doubt homer to left, giving the Tigers a 6–5 lead. A leadoff walk by Walker in the bottom half led to the tying run. After Peralta singled and Kennedy walked, loading the bases, Varsho struck out. That brought up Kelly, whose sacrifice fly to left scored Walker.

A five-run sixth against reliever Will Vest put the Diamondbacks over the top. Rojas led off with a double to left and scored on a single by Smith. Marte walked, advancing Smith to second. Walker hit a grounder to short, forcing Smith at third, before Peralta singled. That loaded the bases for Kennedy, whose sacrifice fly to right scored Marte. Varsho followed with a three-run bomb past the pool in right-center, giving the Diamondbacks an 11–6 lead.

The Tigers scored a consolation run in the top of the ninth. Kody Clemens, who took over at third base in the bottom of the eighth, drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a single by Miguel Cabrera. A hard one-hopper from Greene straight to Perdomo had the potential for a game-ending double play, but he bobbled it initially. He still got the force at second, but Greene beat the relay to first, allowing Clemens to come in from third and finalize the score.

Postgame Reflections

Manager Torey Lovullo thought the Diamondbacks “did a great job despite some very rugged circumstances. We talked about maybe pushing that wave in our direction. It was a three-run home run that gave them the lead in the middle innings, and we came back and pressed on and continued throwing up good at-bats. Quality at-bats, which equaled runs.

“The key blow for me was the Daulton Varsho three-run home run. It really gave us that big cushion and broke this game open. But it was set up by quality at-bat after quality at-bat. Pavin (Smith) with four hits, David (Peralta) with three hits. Guys on base, a season high in base hits — it was a good day. Something that this team needed from an offensive standpoint after getting pushed around and bullied for the past couple of days.”

Lovullo added later that he wanted to go “full throttle” and “get after it.” He told pitching coach Brent Strom that he didn’t trust anything, despite the five-run lead, since the team had lost five in a row.

Dallas Keuchel

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Keuchel told Lovullo before the game that he was a bit anxious and feeling “a little nervous,” something Lovullo said he was “kind of thrilled to hear him say” because he “knew (Keuchel) was ready for this challenge.” Keuchel confirmed that, saying “right before the first pitch, it was like my heart rate just started skyrocketing. So I was trying to hone that in, and I was very fortunate the first inning to get out of it unscathed. I didn’t expect to throw 99 pitches or 98 pitches in four and a third.

“But there were a lot more pros than cons today. I myself expected to come out and throw five or six innings, but that’s obviously the competitor in me. That’s a really good squad over there, and they played a lot better than what their record shows. I’ll take the win, though. That was a great team win on a getaway day.”

Comfortability

Keuchel said there was “a comfortability factor” in facing a team that, while he was in the AL Central with the Chicago White Sox, he was rather familiar with. “But there also were some nerves involved just because of the month layoff,” he admitted. “I knew my stamina was going to be better than I expected just because I pushed myself last start 90-some pitches. But then again, it was like hey, I’m gonna have to make some pitches because these guys know me so well (from) the last three years.

“It was gonna be hey, wait and see what happens. Early, I got myself in some bad counts I was able to get out of the first inning. The second inning, I wasn’t so lucky. But I kind of corralled that inning, and I was doing some things that I wasn’t able to do probably three or four starts — half and half — in Chicago. Half were really good, half were really bad. So for me to corral some of that stuff, and really dig in and make pitches, is a big confidence booster. Moving forward, should be really, really good.”

Carson Kelly

For Kelly, who entered the game slashing .115/.161/.138 (10-for-87) with two doubles, a .141 wOBA, and -12.5 wRAA, the home run was a much-needed step in the right direction. “It was good,” he said. “taking the things I’ve been working on the last couple of days and applying them in the game. Ultimately, you go out there and execute, and today it was good.” It translated into a 1-for-3 day with a walk, two RBI, and two runs scored.

When asked if it seemed like Kelly had a giant monkey climb off his back on the home run, Lovullo said, “Yeah, for sure. He’s been grinding, whether it’s injuries, lack of production, frustration — those are things that all players go through, and he’s been wearing it as well as anyone, taking it head-on. The swings over the past week, the practice he’s been getting, has been very, very productive. Those things that I’m noticing in practice have been translating into the game, and I felt like this moment was imminent. It was a great swing on a pitch he could handle, and he didn’t miss it…. I was happy for Carson.”

Looking Ahead

Wendelken (2–1) earned the win, while Will Vest (1–2) took the loss, both in relief. The Diamondbacks (33–41) and Tigers (28–44) both have days off Monday and Thursday, with a two-game series sandwiched inbetween. While the Diamondbacks host the San Diego Padres (45–30), the Tigers will conclude their road trip at Oracle Park against the San Francisco Giants (39–33). Left-hander Tarik Skubal (5–5, 3.63 ERA) will start for the Tigers against Giants lefty Carlos Rodon (6–4, 2.70 ERA). Back in Phoenix, righty Zac Gallen (4–2, 2.92 ERA) and lefty Sean Manaea (3–3, 3.87 ERA) will start for the Diamondbacks and Padres, respectively. The games will start five minutes apart — 6:40 pm Arizona/Pacific Time for the Diamondbacks-Padres and 6:45 pm Pacific for the Giants-Tigers.

Main Photo:

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Players/managers mentioned:

Pavin Smith, David Peralta, Beau Brieske, Dallas Keuchel, Spencer Torkelson, Daulton Varsho, Eric Haase, Willi Castro, Geraldo Perdomo, Carson Kelly, Josh Rojas, Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, Riley Greene, Buddy Kennedy, Jonathan Schoop, Harold Castro, Robbie Grossman, Alex Lange, Miguel Cabrera, J.B. Wendelken, Will Vest, Kody Clemens, Torey Lovullo, Brent Strom, Carlos Rodon, Tarik Skubal, Zac Gallen, Sean Manaea