Newman walks it off on 4-for-5 day as D-backs take series opener

May 14th, 2024

PHOENIX -- The D-backs' first hit of the game Monday night couldn't have been more bizarre. And their final hit couldn't have been more emphatic.

On a night that began with the funkiest of hits -- a Ketel Marte single that curlicued off the first-base bag and extended his hit streak to 14 games -- it was 's bloop single into shallow right field in the bottom of the ninth that sealed the D-backs' victory. The walk-off knock at Chase Field gave Newman a four-hit game -- his first in the Majors since 2021 -- and propelled Arizona to its fourth straight win over Cincinnati in the past week, 6-5.

The D-backs are set to embark on an early crucial stretch, with eight of their next 11 games coming at home, five of which are against opponents below .500.

Seven of the D-backs' 11 hits, including two from Newman, registered over 95 mph, but a 63.6 mph bloop was the final ring of the pendulum in a seesaw contest.

Newman didn't open 2024 as the D-backs' first choice at shortstop. Or their second. But he has proven to be an integral cog in the lineup, having delivered three consecutive multihit games for the third time in his career. Manager Torey Lovullo spoke pregame about how impressed he has been with the 30-year-old and his recent ability to barrel the baseball -- but it was ultimately the ball he had hit the softest this season for a knock that made the difference.

"My thought process is honestly just 'stay middle' and that's kind of what I've changed in the last few days is just working on staying up the middle to stay on those offspeed pitches a little bit better," Newman said. "So stayed on that one just enough and [it just] dropped in."

Despite not seeing everyday at-bats throughout an entire season since being with the Pirates in 2021, Newman has accrued six walk-off hits dating back to '19, which ties him for the fourth most in the Majors in that span.

"I think that it's just really fun to have the fans behind you and the fans cheering for you so much in such a big situation," Newman said. "It's just -- it's a really, really cool feeling."

Lovullo, who had to watch the club's comeback from a monitor inside the clubhouse following an eighth-inning ejection alongside Joc Pederson, cited that seeing the Reds' bullpen for the fourth time in the span of seven days was something akin to a playoff series. While closer Alexis Díaz wasn't utilized last week in Cincinnati, the patient at-bats and ability to work the count that the club established from the fifth inning onward worked in the D-backs' favor as a hit-by-pitch and two walks in the ninth set the stage for Newman's theatrics.

"I was so proud of what we did in the ninth," Lovullo said. "We built the inning, and then Kevin comes up and gets his fourth hit. It's just a spectacular night for him and he's been playing really, really great baseball for us. So, right guy in the right spot."

Last season, Newman appeared in 74 games for the Reds, serving largely as their utility infielder. He was designated for assignment last September and inked a deal this offseason to enter camp with Arizona as a non-roster invitee.

As recently as April 5, Newman was handling shortstop for Triple-A Reno, having yet to make the club's Opening Day roster. With Geraldo Perdomo holding down the big league starting job and top-ranked prospect Jordan Lawlar (MLB's No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline) also in the mix after he recovers from right thumb surgery, there didn't appear to be a big league fit for Newman with the D-backs. But after Perdomo -- who took live at-bats and was able to get in swings in the batting cage Monday -- went down with a right meniscus tear, an opening emerged.

"It's a super unique path," Newman said. "God's got a plan for me, and ultimately, I came back here, and it's worked out. I came back here for a reason. So I'm just happy to be here and happy to contribute and hopefully continue to get wins with this team."