Kennedy's grand slam propels Diamondback to 7-1 victory against Twins
June 20, 2022
Buddy Kennedy's outstanding performance in his relatively new major league career propelled the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. The Diamondbacks' rookie hit a grand slam on a three-ball, no-strike count after failing to look at the third base coach for the take sign.
"If you're going to swing away, you better hit a grand slam," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo teased.
Kennedy admitted to being overcome with emotion during his first major league at-bat with the bases loaded in front of over 30,000 fans. He missed the count and hadn't even asked third base coach Tony Perezchica for permission. He smashed a high fastball into the left field seats, which was for the best.
“It was 2-0, right?” Kennedy asked his teammates.
“No, it was 3-0," responded someone.
“I take responsibility, that's my fault,” Kennedy acknowledged guiltily. “The moment got to me.”
The Diamondbacks won two of the series' three games. Kennedy's grand slam happened to come in only his ninth MLB at-bat and was his first major league homer. He took a nasty swing at Twins relief pitcher Caleb Thielbar's 3-0 fastball and didn't really miss, smashing a pitch that happened to come off his bat at 105 miles per hour.
“It's just a blur,” Kennedy said. “Yeah, it happened, but running the bases, it felt like a little kid in Little League when you hit your first home run. Just living the dream and enjoying it. " He sheepishly added.
The Chase Field crowd even called out his first name until he popped out and waved back. His father was also in the stands on Father's Day.
“He just said he’s so proud of me,” Kennedy said. “He knows how hard I worked.”
Kennedy, who went to the same high school as Angels star Mike Trout in Millville, New Jersey, was drafted in the fifth round by Arizona in 2017.
Kelly lost control
Merrill Kelly (6-4) lost control on Monday night, blowing a 4-1 lead against the Reds. He had 22 walks and a 5.27 ERA in his previous eight starts. He pitched seven scoreless innings as the D-backs extended their lead. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits while striking out five batters and walking none.
“Definitely something that I'm paying close attention to and trying to put my finger on what exactly it is,” Kelly has said about his control problems at the moment.
Kelly walked off the mound, punching his glove in celebration when his afternoon came to an end, a far cry from the frustration with which he left on Monday.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli stated that "Kelly threw the ball really well."
"We probably got too big, trying to do too much with some of our swings." He knows how to pitch and how to capitalize on that."
Christian Walker drove in Arizona's first two runs with his 17th and 18th home runs of the season, his third multi-homer game of the season. Walker homered in the second and fourth innings. He is now just one homer behind the National League lead.
Walker shaved his beard completely in preparation for his two-homer performances on Saturday and Sunday. He has 18 home runs already this season and is on pace to easily surpass his career high. In 2019, he hit 29 home runs.
The first tied the game at one apiece, and the second put the Diamondbacks up 2-1. Pavin Smith, who entered the game 0 for 23, followed with a long ball to left. Smith's home run made the score 3-1.