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Behind Merrill Kelly, Arizona looks to make it 2 in a row against Cardinals

Sportsnaut
Apr 25, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly (29) throws in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Torey Lovullo celebrated managing the most games in Arizona Diamondbacks history with a win Friday at St. Louis in the second contest of a four-game series.

The teams have split the first two games heading into Saturday’s matinee matchup.

“To me, what it means is I have a great group of people that believe in me,” said Lovullo, whose 729 games as Arizona’s manager since 2017 passes the 728 Kirk Gibson managed from 2010-2014.

“I have a lot of my job that I still want to do here and I’m just grateful for this opportunity. I am not paying attention to those things. Those things don’t really add up to me but one day they will. Right now, I just want to win a baseball game tomorrow. That’s all I’m thinking about.”

Arizona will start right-hander Merrill Kelly (1-1, 1.69 ERA) on Saturday against right-hander Miles Mikolas (1-0, 1.21).

Kelly has faced the Cardinals twice in his career, both times in 2019. He is 1-1 with an ERA of 4.91 against St. Louis, giving up nine runs (six earned) in 11 innings.

Mikolas is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in three appearances, including a start, in his career against the Diamondbacks.

Mikolas missed all of the 2020 season with a flexor tendon injury, then missed all but nine starts last year with more forearm issues. He most recently logged seven scoreless innings against the New York Mets on Monday.

St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol is counting on Mikolas to be more in control of his pitches than veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright was in a 6-2 loss to Arizona on Friday.

Wainwright walked five batters and allowed four hits and three earned runs in six innings.

“All those walks scoring, that’s what got us — the free passes,” Marmol said. “We didn’t make them earn it today … it’s unfortunate but it’s baseball.”

Lovullo said he believes his team followed the same formula on Friday that earned St. Louis an 8-3 win to start the series Thursday.

The Cardinals manufactured runs with 15 hits — all of them singles — and aggressive baserunning that included a couple of stolen bases.

In Friday’s win, the Diamondbacks produced nine hits, three of them rally-generating doubles Ketel Marte, Pavin Smith and Daulton Varsho.

“The Cardinals came out and made a statement,” Lovullo said. “They ran the bases very aggressively, and I think we got sucker punched and it took us four or five innings to get into the flow of (Thursday’s) game.”

But the Diamondbacks bounced back on Friday.

“We executed situationally when we needed to give us a couple extra tack-on runs,” Lovullo said. “It was just a very, very good team win. There were so many good little things that happened inside of today’s game.”

The Diamondbacks placed right-handed closer Mark Melancon on the injured list before Friday’s game because of COVID-19 tracing.

Keynan Middleton, a right-hander who had a 1.17 ERA in seven appearances for Triple-A Reno, was recalled to replace Melancon.

Melancon is the second Arizona reliever in as many days to go on the injured list because of COVID-19 protocols.

–Field Level Media