Kelly gives D-backs much-needed innings

Righty pitched seven frames, spelling bullpen in loss

May 12th, 2019

PHOENIX -- A late-inning rally came up just short, and the D-backs fell to the Braves, 6-4, on Saturday night at Chase Field. It was the second straight loss for Arizona, which has dropped five of its last seven.

There was plenty to process and digest from the game, but here are four key takeaways:

1) Kelly did his job

It wasn’t a pristine line for -- three runs allowed over seven innings of work -- but it was pretty good, and most important, he pitched deep in the game.

By going seven innings, the right-hander kept manager Torey Lovullo from having to use long man , meaning Godley can start Sunday’s series finale.

Had the team had to use Godley to get through Saturday’s game, it would have made for a mess of a bullpen game Sunday, and thrown the team’s pitching plans into disarray.

“Merrill threw the ball extremely well,” Lovullo said. “He went as [hard] as he could for as long as he could.”

2) Bradley is still struggling

Setup man , who allowed five runs (four earned) last Sunday in Denver, seemed to have regained some of his mojo when he tossed three scoreless innings against the Rays last Wednesday.

On Saturday, though, he came on in the eighth with the D-backs trailing, 3-2, and he allowed the Braves to score a pair of much-needed insurance runs.

“I feel for everyone,” Bradley said. “I take what I do very seriously and very personally. I want to be the best at what I do. When I’m not doing it, when I’m not having success, it’s tough.”

After he gave up an RBI single to Ozzie Albies in the eighth, and again as he walked off the mound with one out and runners at first and second, there was a smattering of boos from the crowd.

“When you don’t pitch well, you’re going to get booed,” Bradley said. “Pitch better and you don’t get booed.”

Bradley became a fan favorite in 2017 and has become in some ways the face of the team, now that Paul Goldschmidt is in St. Louis, so Lovullo was surprised to hear Bradley booed.

“A little bit,” Lovullo said. “You ride a slippery slope sometimes when you don’t do your job. Sometimes the fans are entitled to do that. We sign up for that. I can’t tell you what I hear when I’m walking back on the field after some of the moves I make. It just happens. Like I said, we chose this profession and we expose ourselves to that. It’s part of the game and fans certainly have a right to express themselves that way.”

3) Bradley needs to be careful about his frustration

While in the dugout after being removed, Bradley was caught by television cameras punching the large orange Gatorade jug in the dugout with his right (pitching) hand with a few lefts mixed in.

“I wanted to punch something really bad,” Bradley said. “I wanted to throw something.”

The emotion, Lovullo said, was fine. The choice of which hand he used, not so much.

“I’ll get a chance to talk to him about that,” Lovullo said. “I’d rather he throw [more] lefts than rights. By the time I had seen it, it had stopped. Had I seen it earlier, I would have encouraged him not to do something like this. But these athletes are prone to those moments. They’re not perfect. I support guys showing frustration and venting.”

4) Hitting needs to pick it up

Yes, the D-backs scored four runs, but they left eight men on base and were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

In the fourth, they had the bases loaded with no outs and didn’t score, and in the sixth, they had the bases loaded with one out and managed just one run.

“I thought early we got outside of our approach, and typically something that we’re very good at and have been good at -- situational hitting,” Lovullo said. “We came out of our game plan and just weren’t patient enough.”