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Kelly provides key length as D-backs blank SF

@SteveGilbertMLB
May 18, 2019

PHOENIX -- Merrill Kelly gave the D-backs what they needed Friday night. Yes, the right-hander pitched well and got the win in the 7-0 victory over the Giants, but more importantly, by going 5 1/3 innings he was able to set his team up for Saturday night. • Box score

PHOENIX -- Merrill Kelly gave the D-backs what they needed Friday night.

Yes, the right-hander pitched well and got the win in the 7-0 victory over the Giants, but more importantly, by going 5 1/3 innings he was able to set his team up for Saturday night.

Box score

Heading into the night the D-backs had not named a starter for Saturday night against Madison Bumgarner. They hoped to use Zack Godley, but couldn’t commit to him because he may have been needed in relief Friday had Kelly struggled.

“It was all set up by Merrill Kelly, who went out there and gave us 5 1/3 shutout innings,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.

So now the team can go with Godley on Saturday, and because only Jimmie Sherfy and Yoshihisa Hirano were used a little more than usual -- Hirano threw 1 1/3 innings and Sherfy tossed two -- they have just about a full bullpen behind him.

Godley initially lost his spot in the rotation after struggling in April, but the situation got confusing when the D-backs had to option his replacement, Taylor Clarke, back to Triple-A after his first start because of the need for an extra arm in the bullpen.

So when Godley’s spot rolled around last time, he started but was used as an opener. Making things more awkward was that Lovullo chose not to tell Godley in advance he was being used like that, and so he surprised the right-hander when he pulled him after two innings and one trip through the lineup.

So is Godley going to be a starter or an opener on Saturday?

“I’ll talk to Zack about that,” Lovullo said. “We’re going to give him a little bit more of an opportunity tomorrow.”

Kelly (4-4) allowed six hits and was able to pitch his way out of jams when he needed to.

For example, in the third inning, the Giants had runners on the corners with just one out, but Kelly got both Buster Posey and Brandon Belt to fly out to left.

“He was using his defense, and that’s what we’re there for,” right fielder Adam Jones said. “He’s pounding the strike zone, especially these last couple of starts, and he’s seeing the results. It’s fun to play behind him because he works fast and throws strikes.”

Giants starter Jeff Samardzija nearly matched Kelly through five innings, with the only difference being a solo homer in the fourth by David Peralta. But the D-backs finally got to Samardzija in the sixth, scoring a pair of runs while chasing him from the game.

“That’s what you have to do against Shark -- you’ve got to capitalize when you can,” Jones said of Samardzija.

Arizona padded its lead with a four-run seventh off San Francisco reliever Derek Holland.

“I made some pitches to get out of [jams],” Kelly said. “Alex [Avila] did a great job calling pitches back there. He was on the same page for the most part all night and obviously the offense came alive there toward the end of the game, and it was kind of just a good all-around team win.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.