Kelly deals, but AZ takes another close loss

Right-hander tosses 5 scoreless innings as D-backs blanked in SF

September 30th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's games like Wednesday night's 1-0 loss to the Giants at Oracle Park that have had D-backs manager Torey Lovullo tossing and turning in his hotel room.

They are the one-run losses in which a play here or there makes the difference. The times when the other team can execute and his cannot. When the D-backs do not win "the inches," which in Lovullo's verbiage translates to doing the little things right.

Unfortunately for Lovullo's sleep patterns, it has happened too frequently, as Wednesday's game dropped the D-backs to 9-30 this year in one-run games.

"These are the nights that are a little bit grinding on me and the [coaching] staff," Lovullo said. "We go to bed thinking about it. We've been talking about it during the game, we've been talking about it postgame and we'll continue to try and figure out ways to make sure that we're prepared to win those little inches that are all over the ballpark.

"When you look at the amount of one-run losses that have taken place this year, I can continue to walk around the field in my mind and find those little inches everywhere."

Arizona starter Merrill Kelly pitched his way in and out of trouble for five scoreless innings, stranding eight San Francisco baserunners. He allowed three hits and four walks while striking out four.

Kelly found a way to make it through what was likely his final start of the year.

"It was a struggle, for sure, to say the least," Kelly said. "I was happy that I got through five. I actually was trying to plead my case to go back out for six. But the fact that I was in that position, I was thankful that I was able to kind of settle down after those first couple."

Kelly has plenty to be proud of from his 27 outings this season. Coming off thoracic outlet surgery last September, the right-hander was Arizona's most consistent and reliable starter throughout the year.

Kelly's only extended absence came when he missed a month after testing positive for COVID-19.

"Just off the top of my head, I am grateful and proud to be able to have made it through all the way," Kelly said. "There was a lot of uncertainty, I think, coming off surgery, a lot of what-ifs, and I was happy with the fact that I was able to -- other than obviously COVID. But I was happy that I was able to stay healthy throughout the whole year. I think that would probably be my biggest takeaway."

After Kelly exited, the Giants broke through in the seventh. Noé Ramirez took over for Taylor Widener on the mound, and pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella greeted Ramirez with a single to right. Steven Duggar pinch-ran for La Stella, stole second and moved to third on a LaMonte Wade Jr. sacrifice bunt.

Kris Bryant then delivered a sacrifice fly to right to score Duggar for the game's lone run.

Meanwhile, the D-backs did not execute in crucial situations. Kelly couldn't get a bunt down in the third, so instead of advancing the runners who were on first and second, it led to Ketel Marte hitting into an inning-ending double play.

Arizona had seven runners reach base, but it couldn't push any of them across, partly due to hitting into three double plays.

"Look, the margins between a win and a loss are very small," Lovullo said. "We just had some opportunities and we couldn't take advantage of it. They did take advantage of the one they had, and like I said, that's the difference between winning and losing in these games."