Kelly, Diamondbacks Too Much for Rockies

Merrill Kelly of the Diamondbacks pitching against the Rockies
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Diamondbacks 7, Rockies 3

PHOENIX, Mar. 29 — Merrill Kelly struck out eight and walked none across 6 2/3 innings, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7–3 win over the visiting Colorado Rockies Friday night. Kelly held the Rockies to one run on three hits, with the lone run coming on a home run by Elias Diaz. Joc Pederson led the Diamondbacks offensively, batting 4-for-4 on the night. On the Rockies side, Ryan McMahon went 2-for-4, registering two hits for the second straight game.

Cal Quantrill allowed five runs (all earned) on nine hits, walking one and striking out one across five innings. Of his outing, Quantrill said, “It wasn’t my best day. I wasn’t really commanding the baseball the way I wanted to. Could tell in the first inning that we had to go to our second or third gameplan pretty quick. But I thought we battled. A couple of tough ones there at the end, but I thought we gave the team a chance. For the most part, we fought to the end.”

Rockies manager Bud Black saw some positives in Quantrill’s outing, saying his “stuff” was good. “Maybe just tired there at the end with the walk to Moreno,” Black observed.

Rockies – Diamondbacks Game Summary

The Diamondbacks jumped on Rockies starter Cal Quantrill with two outs in the bottom of the first. They took a 2–0 lead on back-to-back solo homers by left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and first baseman Christian Walker, a noted Rockies nemesis. The Rockies slashed the deficit to 2–1 with one out in the top of the second on the Diaz home run. Pederson, the designated hitter, made it a 3–1 game in the bottom of the third, driving in second baseman Ketel Marte with an infield single to the shortstop.

The Diamondbacks extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth, sending nine men to the plate in the process. Third baseman Eugenio Suarez notched an RBI single off new pitcher Jake Bird before center fielder Alek Thomas clubbed a three-run blast to right, making the score 7–1.

It became a 7–3 game in the top of the eighth with an RBI triple by designated hitter Charlie Blackmon, who later scored on a wild pitch. The Diamondbacks threatened to blow the game open in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases against new pitcher Tyler Kinley with nobody out. But a called strikeout of Gurriel and 6–4–3 double-play groundout by Walker allowed Kinley to escape unscathed. Diamondbacks reliever Kevin Ginkel closed out the game with a scoreless ninth, pitching around a two-out single by McMahon.

What Went Right for the Rockies

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Diaz, McMahon, and Blackmon

Not only did Diaz smack the first Rockies homer of the young season in the second inning, but he gunned down Diamondbacks speedster and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll on a steal attempt in the fifth inning.

McMahon, whose offensive tally has already been noted, applied the tag on the play. He made sure to keep his leg out of the way in accordance with the league’s tighter obstruction enforcement.

Blackmon hit 1-for-4 on the day with a triple, an RBI, and a run scored.

What Went Wrong for the Rockies

The Sixth Inning

The Rockies coughed up four runs in the bottom of the sixth as the Diamondbacks sent nine hitters to the plate. Quantrill, who tossed seven pitches in the fourth and six pitches in the fifth, suddenly lost it on the first two hitters. Jake Bird took over for Quantrill and struggled, surrendering a single and homer to the first two hitters he faced, Suarez and Thomas, respectively. Bird retired the next two hitters before allowing a Ketel Marte single and walking Gurriel.

The Leadoff Man

In six of the eight innings pitched by the Rockies, the leadoff man reached base, all on hits. When the leadoff batter reaches base, the offensive team averages 0.461 runs per inning. In other words, they typically score half the time. The eighth inning was the only one where the leadoff hitter reached on a double. In those situations, the offensive team averages 1.068 runs per inning. The average increases to 2.282 when the first three batters all reach and load the bases, as the Diamondbacks did in the eighth. Miraculously, the Rockies did not give up any runs despite facing that setback.

Starting Pitching

In the first two games of the series, Rockies starting pitchers have allowed 15 runs on 19 hits, including three home runs. They have walked two and struck out three across 7 1/3 innings. The goal of pitching deep into games has not been reached thus far, with Freeland leaving in the third inning and Quantrill getting the hook after not recording an out in the sixth.

Quick Hits

Christian Walker has terrorized Rockies pitching since becoming the regular Diamondbacks first baseman in 2019. He has slashed .322/.377/.637 (94-for-292) since that point, with 23 doubles, 23 home runs, 63 RBI, 26 walks, and 55 runs scored. In his career against Quantrill, Walker is slashing .417/.417/1.083 (5-for-12) with two doubles, two homers, and four RBI. He last faced Quantrill in 2022, while Quantrill played for the Cleveland Guardians, going 2-for-3 with a double and a three-run homer.

Ryan McMahon became the 29th Rockies player to notch two or more hits in the team’s first two games of a season. Both Elehuris Montero and Charlie Blackmon did so in 2023 against the San Diego Padres. DJ LeMahieu holds the franchise record, five, three straight against the Diamondbacks and two against the Padres to open the 2016 season. McMahon (.667) is tied with Ketel Marte as the NL leader in the young season and leads the NL in on-base percentage (.750).

Charlie Blackmon, who has spent his entire career with the Rockies, belted his 64th career triple in the eighth inning. He is the active leader, having held the distinction since July 17, 2022, when he had 56. Number two on the active list, Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, has 57.

Looking Ahead

Kelly earned the win (1–0), with Quantrill (0–1) taking the loss.

The Rockies and Diamondbacks will meet again Saturday in the third game of their four-game series. It will be a battle of lefties, Austin Gomber for the Rockies and Tommy Henry for the Diamondbacks. First pitch will be at 5:10 pm Arizona Time/6:10 pm Mountain Daylight Time.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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