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D-backs can't solve Lyles as bats stay quiet

@Russ_Dorsey1
August 24, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- There are some things you don’t forget, and for Brewers starter Jordan Lyles, it was the D-backs’ offense. “I had a previous outing against them earlier in the season that didn’t go as well,” Lyles said. “So it was good to bounce back against them personally.” The outing

MILWAUKEE -- There are some things you don’t forget, and for Brewers starter Jordan Lyles, it was the D-backs’ offense.

“I had a previous outing against them earlier in the season that didn’t go as well,” Lyles said. “So it was good to bounce back against them personally.”

The outing Lyles is referring to came on April 24, when he was still a member of the Pirates. Arizona roughed him up for five runs over five innings of work in a losing effort, but the right-hander got his payback, handing the D-backs a 6-1 loss on Friday night at Miller Park. Arizona fell to 5 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the second National League Wild Card spot.

Box score

Coming into his outing, Lyles had a 2-7 record and a 7.23 ERA in 10 career starts vs. Arizona, but that didn't matter. Lyles dominated D-backs hitters, throwing six no-hit innings before handing the game off to Milwaukee’s bullpen after 99 pitches.

“It was top of the zone, and then the curveball was falling off of that,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “He was knifing fastballs on both sides of the plate. I thought they had a good game plan.”

First baseman Christian Walker was the only D-backs player to reach base until Jarrod Dyson walked to lead off the ninth inning. Walker walked in his two plate appearances vs. Lyles before breaking up the no-hitter in the seventh inning against Brewers reliever Devin Williams.

“[Lyles] is a good pitcher to begin with,” Walker said. “I think he was a little extra good tonight. He was throwing his fastball where he wanted. That thing’s got some life to it. If you want to call it high spin or ride through the zone or finish, but his fastball was pretty good tonight."

Walker’s seventh-inning single was hit just over the outstretched glove of Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia and had an exit velocity of 63.9 mph, the second-softest-hit ball put in play in the game.

“I think you want to be the guy to break the team back out of it and get something going and start a rally or at least get a run across somehow,” Walker said. “I think as [the no-hitter] gets going, maybe guys, including myself, try to hit a six-run home run right there to tie it up. But obviously, that’s pretty hard to do.”

While the D-backs avoided being no-hit for the fourth time in franchise history, their offense disappeared for the second game in a row. Arizona was averaging six runs per game before putting together just three runs on six hits over its last two games.

The offensive outage comes at an inopportune time, as Arizona lost ground to the Brewers in the Wild Card standings, moving three games back of Chicago.

Kelly left looking for answers

Unlike Arizona's bats, which have struggled for two games, Merrill Kelly's struggles have been going on longer. The right-hander allowed six runs over 4 1/3 innings against Milwaukee.

Kelly allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings in his last start, but he had a shaky four outings prior to that. With his performance on Friday, his ERA over his past six starts is 9.20.

“When you’re not quite sure what’s causing it, you’re kind of throwing things at the wall and hoping something sticks type of thing,” Kelly said. “Not saying that’s where we’re at, but if it was something that I could put my thumb on, it would be much easier to attack moving forward.”

Kelly struggles with consistency continued against the Brewers and he couldn’t find a rhythm after a 33-pitch first inning where he allowed three runs.

“I think at this level, it’s all about winning, all about results,” Kelly said. “I don’t think anybody’s spot, especially this time of year when each game is more important than the previous one or the next one, [is secure]. We’re trying to win, and if somebody’s not winning, we have to try and find somebody else. I can’t really control that. All I can control is how I feel and the work I put in every day.”

As Robbie Ray nears a return from the injured list and Luke Weaver potentially being right behind him, it leaves some questions as to what Kelly’s future holds in Arizona’s rotation.

“I’ll tell you what, that’s where we’re at right now: No playing time is guaranteed, no next starts are guaranteed,” Lovullo said. “It’s something we’re constantly evaluating and trying to push forward with the best decisions moving to the next day. I’m sure we’ll have some discussions. At this point, I don’t know. I don’t know that answer.”

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.