Peralta, Cron go deep as Kelly throws a gem

Left fielder goes 3-for-4; rookie hits 1st HR; starter gives up 3 hits in 7

June 8th, 2019

TORONTO -- and the D-backs carried the momentum from Wednesday’s walk-off win north of the border on Friday night, where they hit Marcus Stroman hard, got another solid start from Merrill Kelly, and cruised to an 8-2 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

Peralta opened the scoring in the top of the fourth with an RBI single to center that kickstarted a five-run inning, which was all Arizona needed. Peralta then hit his eighth home run of the season in the sixth to extend the D-backs’ lead.

“Peralta had a huge day and it came on the heels of another huge day, that big base hit to beat the Dodgers,” said D-backs manager Torey Lovullo after the win. “We know he’s in a good spot, pushing this team along, and that’s what we love.”

The key play in the fourth came with runners on the corners, one out and Christian Walker at the plate. With the score still sitting at just 1-0 for the D-backs, Walker worked a full count and delivered a clutch RBI ground-rule double deep into the gap in left-center field. That kept the lineup rolling and set the table for Kevin Cron, who cleared the bases by doing what he does best.

Cron’s first career Major League home run, a three-run shot, wasn’t a rocket off the bat like so many of his Minor League homers, but he put it in the right place. Measuring in at 363 feet, Cron wrapped it down the left-field line to bring home Peralta and Walker.

It was only a matter of time for Cron, who belted a whopping 21 home runs in 44 games with Triple-A Reno before being promoted to the D-backs in late May. The 26-year-old had been limited to mostly pinch-hit opportunities, but the addition of the designated hitter for the Toronto series allowed manager Torey Lovullo to get Cron in the lineup.

“I’ve had usually an at-bat a night, but it’s always good string at-bats together,” Cron said. “Face the same guy a couple of times and see what he’s got. I was able to see a few pitches in that first at-bat and get a feel for what Stroman’s got. I’d never faced him before. I got in a situation with some guys on base and knew he was going to go to that heavy sinker that he’s built a career around.”

Cron was met in the dugout with a classic silent treatment from his teammates, which Lovullo admitted was particularly hard on him as an Italian and self-described “hugger”. Cron’s brother, C.J., also went deep on Friday night for the Twins, making it a special moment for the Cron family.

“He’s the older brother. He can never let me have my own moment,” joked the younger Cron.

Arizona’s jolt of offense -- Carson Kelly added another homer in the ninth -- took the spotlight off Merrill Kelly, who followed up Sunday’s 10-strikeout performance vs. the Mets with seven strong, efficient innings.

Kelly allowed just one run -- a solo homer to Teoscar Hernandez -- on three hits while walking two and striking out three. He didn’t have the same strikeout pitch working as he did last time out, but Kelly didn’t often need it. His fastball averaged 92.1 mph, slightly above his season average, and reached as high as 94.8 mph as Kelly mixed speeds all night long.

“Everything started and stopped with Merrill,” Lovullo said. “It’s the second really, really good start in a row that he’s given us with seven-plus innings and one run.”

The win moves Kelly back to an even 6-6 record and drops his ERA from 4.41 to 4.12.