Photo by Jon Willey
By Greg Dillard
Ian Kennedy didn’t have his best stuff, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to win.
Kennedy delivered a winning performance for the D-backs in Friday’s series opener against the Mets. The right-hander shut down the New York lineup en route to his 15th win of the season. The victory now ties Kennedy with Roy Halladay for most wins in the National League.
Kennedy unleashed seven strong innings, scattering six hits while striking out five. He pitched six or more innings for the 21st time this season, and Friday night was also the 22nd straight start in which he’s surpassed the 100-pitch mark.
The D-backs’ ace also extended his winning streak to seven consecutive starts – with the help of a Justin Upton home run in the bottom of the first and RBI doubles by Cody Ransom and the pitcher himself an inning later.
“It helps,” Kennedy said, “especially by the second inning and you’re up 4-0. You know you can just be aggressive. I wish I was a little more aggressive and hitting my spots more than I have been.”
Although Kennedy didn’t have his best command, he managed to shut out the Mets for the first four innings. New York did not get a hit until two outs into the third inning.
“He maybe didn’t have his best stuff tonight,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “He didn’t locate as well as he has in the past. But he found a way through it.”
The D-backs’ ace ran into some trouble in the fourth inning. Lucas Duda was hit by a pitch and Jason Bay singled to jumpstart what looked to be a New York rally.
Kennedy, however, thought otherwise. The right-hander fanned Josh Thole for the first out of the inning. After Jason Pridie walked, he struck out Ruben Tejada for the second out of the inning.
It was Dillon Gee’s turn next to try and provide a clutch hit. Two outs, bases loaded, and the pitcher standing in the batter’s box. It was Kennedy who won the battle against his mound counterpart by freezing Gee on strike three to escape the bases-loaded threat unscathed.
Opponents are now hitting a miniscule .059 against Kennedy with the bases loaded.
One inning later, the Mets rallied to plate their lone run of the game on an RBI single off the bat of Bay.
Kennedy’s strong night wasn’t limited to the pitching rubber. He helped his own cause by drilling an RBI double in the second inning – part of a three-run frame and only the second double and fourth RBI of his career.
“It’s about time,” Kennedy said. “I haven’t got a hit. I think the last time was when we faced the Giants here. So it’s been frustrating.”
Kennedy was flying out the box and took a hard turn around second before slamming on the brakes. He later admitted that he was hoping for a triple.
“Yeah, I was,” Kennedy said. “I think that was stupid of me, because I think I got a little tired.”
With his RBI, D-backs pitchers have now driven in 28 runs this season, which is highest in the Majors.
After seven strong innings, Kennedy handed things off to the D-backs’ bullpen. David Hernandez pitched the eighth, and J.J. Putz nailed his 28th save of the season.
“I’m really happy going seven knowing that David is coming in after me or anybody else in our bullpen,” Kennedy said. “It’s nice to have them in the back there.”
Friday night’s win also cushioned Arizona’s first place lead in the National League West. The second-place Giants lost earlier in the evening, 2-1, to Florida, and the D-backs now hold a two-game lead in the division race.