Tagged: Ian Kennedy

Kennedy propels D-backs to win over Mets

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.

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D-backs visit San Francisco: A first-person view

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

By Greg Dillard

There’s nothing quite like watching a heated division race during the second half of the MLB season.

In 2011, the D-backs and Giants are locked in a close-knit battle for possession of first place in the National League West. Every pitch, every at-bat and every game means something for both of these teams.

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Strong Night for Kennedy Lifts D-backs

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

On Wednesday night, the D-backs suffered a pair of disheartening losses. They not only fell to the Brewers in extra innings, but also lost shortstop Stephen Drew to a season-ending ankle injury. So, heading into Thursday’s series finale against Milwaukee, Arizona was in desperate need of some good news on the diamond.

The team turned to ace Ian Kennedy who took the mound against Brewers’ right-hander Zach Greinke. In what was a classic pitcher’s duel early on, Kennedy cruised through seven sharp innings en route to a much needed 4-0 win. Continue reading

Kennedy & Putz Pitching Like All-Stars

Photos by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Salvatore

On the night of April 25, while Ian Kennedy was shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies, en route to striking out 10 batters in a duel with Cliff Lee the day after his daughter, Nora, was born, I received this message on Twitter:

I thought the sentiment was perfect. Out Cliff Lee-ing Cliff Lee. Kennedy was a strike-throwing machine that night, peppering the zone with every pitch in his arsenal. If you had no other information, and simply looked at the stat line — 10 strikeouts, no walks, no runs and three hits — and you asked fans to guess which pitcher had that line, Cliff Lee would be a pretty common guess.

Kennedy had one bad day this year (April 13 against St. Louis), but since walking off the field that night, he’s been one of the most valuable players in the National League. In his eight starts since then, here is Kennedy’s stat line:

5-0 – 1.87 ERA – 46 K – 13 BB –57 2/3 innings (7 1/3 per start)

Kennedy is, without question, one of the best starters in the NL this year and he should be rewarded for his fabulous season with the chance to play in the All-Star Game on his home field.

But he shouldn’t be alone.

The man who finished off Kennedy’s win in Colorado last night should have the opportunity to come in after him on July 12 as well.

J.J. Putz has been everything D-backs fans could have hoped for. Following a season in which the team had a historically bad bullpen, the overhaul in that department has been stunning. The D-backs have the seventh-best bullpen ERA in the National League and the 10th best in all of baseball. And it seems there is no bigger reason for that turnaround than the veteran at the back of the ‘pen.

Putz has given up only four earned runs and one home run in 21 innings this season, saving 14 games in 14 chances.

Though you still have time to vote (and vote… and vote… and vote!) for D-backs position players to make the All-Star Game, you can’t vote for these guys. It’s the National League players who pick the bulk of the reserves.

And if you have noticed what these two have done, it’s safe to say the opponents who have watched Kennedy and Putz dominate their teams have doubly noticed.

Top 20 starters in the NL, by ERA:

Jair Jurrjens 1.56 8 ATL 8 6 1 57.2 50 11 10 9 33 235 2 8 3 .235 .269 .329 .598
Josh Johnson 1.64 9 FLA 9 3 1 60.1 39 13 11 20 56 240 2 8 0 .185 .258 .251 .509
Jaime Garcia 1.93 10 STL 10 5 0 65.1 54 20 14 13 57 190 3 9 0 .225 .267 .300 .567
Tim Lincecum 2.06 10 SFG 10 4 4 70.0 51 21 16 24 75 185 4 11 0 .203 .278 .295 .573
Kyle Lohse 2.06 10 STL 10 6 2 74.1 53 17 17 14 41 178 3 14 0 .199 .241 .286 .527
Roy Halladay 2.35 11 PHI 11 6 3 84.1 75 23 22 13 86 161 2 7 0 .237 .266 .278 .544
Shaun Marcum 2.37 10 MIL 10 6 1 64.2 51 19 17 15 62 157 5 7 1 .214 .260 .315 .575
Charlie Morton 2.61 9 PIT 9 5 2 62.0 53 19 18 29 33 146 2 10 0 .233 .318 .304 .622
Tommy Hanson 2.72 10 ATL 10 5 3 59.2 44 20 18 18 61 135 5 12 0 .206 .274 .332 .606
Roy Oswalt 2.77 7 PHI 7 3 2 39.0 36 13 12 10 27 137 2 10 0 .245 .306 .354 .660
Clayton Kershaw 2.96 11 LAD 11 5 3 70.0 61 23 23 23 77 121 6 8 0 .234 .294 .333 .627
Ian Kennedy 3.01 11 ARI 11 6 1 74.2 59 26 25 19 59 132 5 20 1 .219 .276 .356 .632
Anibal Sanchez 3.02 9 FLA 9 3 1 56.2 48 21 19 20 58 130 4 6 3 .229 .299 .343 .642
Ricky Nolasco 3.04 10 FLA 10 4 0 68.0 65 25 23 13 54 129 7 21 0 .258 .297 .425 .722
Cole Hamels 3.06 10 PHI 10 6 2 67.2 54 23 23 15 68 124 5 12 1 .221 .271 .340 .611
Jhoulys Chacin 3.09 10 COL 10 5 3 67.0 50 26 23 24 56 141 7 9 1 .203 .276 .333 .609
Hiroki Kuroda 3.10 10 LAD 10 5 4 66.2 66 27 23 17 51 116 9 12 3 .259 .303 .435 .739
Dustin Moseley 3.15 10 SDP 10 1 6 60.0 58 25 21 19 28 109 5 9 1 .253 .313 .367 .680
Jason Hammel 3.20 10 COL 10 3 4 64.2 62 28 23 20 38 136 5 10 3 .257 .320 .386 .705
Cliff Lee 3.38 10 PHI 10 3 4 66.2 65 26 25 15 78 112 5 12 2 .253 .298 .374 .672
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/26/2011.

Top 10 closers in the NL, by saves:

Leo Nunez 18 FLA NL 26 25.0 23 9 9 9 25 3.24 2 4 1 .242 .305 .368 .673
Francisco Rodriguez 15 NYM NL 23 23.2 20 2 2 12 25 0.76 0 2 0 .230 .330 .253 .583
Huston Street 14 COL NL 23 23.2 23 9 9 4 22 3.42 6 2 0 .261 .293 .489 .782
J.J. Putz 14 ARI NL 20 21.0 13 5 4 5 19 1.71 1 3 0 .176 .235 .257 .491
Craig Kimbrel 14 ATL NL 25 24.0 17 8 7 11 36 2.62 0 1 1 .200 .289 .235 .524
Brian Wilson 13 SFG NL 23 23.0 19 9 9 15 23 3.52 0 2 0 .221 .350 .244 .594
John Axford 13 MIL NL 23 22.1 24 11 10 9 30 4.03 1 1 1 .267 .330 .333 .663
Joel Hanrahan 13 PIT NL 22 22.2 22 5 4 5 16 1.59 1 5 0 .262 .303 .357 .661
Heath Bell 10 SDP NL 19 19.0 14 6 4 6 13 1.89 0 2 0 .200 .263 .229 .492
Carlos Marmol 9 CHC NL 20 21.0 11 3 3 10 27 1.29 0 2 0 .157 .277 .186 .463
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/26/2011.

New D-backs Blanco, Paterson Playing Well

Photography: Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

Veteran catcher Henry Blanco isn’t known for his power at the plate. He hit just 60 career home runs in 13 seasons in the Major Leagues.

However, Blanco has some pop when he’s been penciled in manager Kirk Gibson’s starting lineup lately.

In his last four games, the catcher has crushed four home runs. Two of them came in Monday night’s matchup against the Padres, as Blanco had the fourth two-homer game of his career.

He last accomplished the feat in April 2009 against the Giants when he was a member of the Padres.

Both of Blanco’s long balls came off of Padres’ southpaw Clayton Richard. The first came in the third inning, and the second came in the fifth.

“Henry is great,” Gibson said. “He’s played well for us. He really has. He had a good night for us tonight.”

Paterson continues scoreless streak

Southpaw Joe Paterson’s rookie season in the Major Leagues continues to be an impressive one.

He turned in yet another scoreless outing on Monday night against the Dodgers. He has now posted 17 consecutive scoreless outings, spanning 8 2/3 innings to start his D-backs career.

Paterson took over on the mound in the top of the ninth, and quickly retired Chase Headley on a fly out to left field.

Paterson then sat down Brad Hawpe and Will Venable on groundouts to end the inning.

Kennedy dominating in 2011

Through nine starts, Ian Kennedy is enjoying a stellar start to his second season in Arizona.

In 2011, he has a 4-1 record with a 3.05 in nine starts. His 59 innings pitched also places him third among all National League starters.

Against the Dodgers on Sunday, the right-hander allowed just one earned run in six innings of work. Against the Phillies on April 25, Kennedy outdueled Cliff Lee by hurling a shutout.

While he posted nine wins last year, Kennedy believes his ability to adjust during the game has led to increased success on the mound.

“I’ve been executing a lot more,” Kennedy said, “just trying to apply what I learned last year, and make in game adjustments quicker rather than waiting for a whole batter to pass.”

Kennedy has struggled in just one of his starts this year, a loss at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals.

“That was one thing I was disappointed in myself when I pitched against the Cardinals,” Kennedy said. “I didn’t make the adjustment. I catch myself earlier now.”

The D-backs ace is slated to make his next start this Friday at Chase Field against the Minnesota Twins.

Views From a Big Win

The D-backs returned home from the road Monday night, and greeted fans at Chase Field with a gem.

Behind Opening Day starter Ian Kennedy, the D-backs won 4-0 with home runs from Chris Young and Gerardo Parra. Justin Upton contributed a key double to center field, and made a tremendous diving catch in right.

But the star of the night was Kennedy, who pitched the first complete game shutout of his career, holding the Phillies to three hits while striking out 10 batters and not issuing a single walk. It was a brilliant, memorable performance in a ballpark that has seen the home team’s pitchers throw many brilliant games over the years.

Here are some images from photographer Jordan Megenhardt:

Ian Kennedy on the win:

Chris Young on the win:

Kirk Gibson on the win:

Notes from SRF: Kennedy To Start Opening Day

Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
After much anticipation, the D-backs have finally selected a pitcher to serve as their Opening Day starter on April 1 against Colorado.
One year after fighting through Spring Training attempting to crack the Major League roster, Ian Kennedy now finds himself receiving the honor of starting the first regular season game of 2011.
“You know it’s a possibility, but I knew I had a couple people in front of me,” Kennedy said. “It’s just a big honor. It’s something you dream about as a little kid. You want to be that Opening Day guy. It’s a big honor. I’m at a loss for words.” 
Last season was Kennedy’s first year in Arizona after being acquired from the New York Yankees in an offseason trade. In 2009, Kennedy missed an extended amount of time due to aneurysm surgery and pitched in only one game at the Major League level. 
As a new D-back, Kennedy did not disappoint by quickly establishing himself as a mainstay in the starting rotation. He notched nine wins and a solid 3.80 ERA in his 32 starts. In his first full season in the big leagues, Kennedy managed to throw a career high 194 innings. 
He capped off a strong first season by allowing two runs or less in six of his last nine starts. Of those nine starts, Kennedy pitched at least five innings in all but one of them. The right-hander notched 168 strikeouts, a rate of 7.8 per nine innings. 
For Kennedy, he entered this Spring with a different approach compared to years past. 
“Coming in here last year, (I was) trying to make the team,” Kennedy said. “This year, just happy that I can treat Spring Training like most guys on the roster treat Spring Training and not try to make the team. Just trying to get ready for the season. I knew the Opening Day spot was kind of up for grabs. So that was in the back of my mind that it was possible.”
This will be Kennedy’s first career Opening Day start, and he is the sixth D-backs pitcher to start on Opening Day, joining Andy Benes, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. The D-backs are confident that he is the right man for the job. 
“He pitched very good for this ball club last year,” General Manager Kevin Towers said. “He finished strong, almost logged 200 innings. He’s a pitcher. I mean this guy has four pitches. He throws them all for strikes. He’s a guy that I don’t think will have any fear for being an Opening Day starter. He’ll probably look at this start like any other start.
“He’ll go out and give you everything that he has. I’m looking for him to have some success out there. Happy for him, that’s quite an honor for a young pitcher that’s got less than two years experience in the big leagues.” 
Young heating up at plate
D-backs outfielder Chris Young is capable of hitting almost anywhere in the starting lineup. Young not only has experience in the leadoff spot, but throughout the middle part of the order as well. 
On Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants, Young was penciled in manager Kirk Gibson’s leadoff spot. In the bottom of the first, Young unloaded on a Madison Bumgarner pitch and smacked it into the lawn seating in left-center field. 
After walking in his second at bat, Young laced another extra base hit in the fifth inning, this time a double off of Giants pitcher Guillermo Mota. 
With two more hits against the Giants, Young is heating up at the plate this Spring, hitting .316 with two home runs and five doubles. The recent success has been the result of a calm approach and plenty of work for Young.
“Just trying to see the ball,” Young said. “I’ve been working a lot on my approach at the plate and in my path with my swing with (Don) Baylor quite a bit. Just trying to stay calm and patient at the plate. I’ve really been trying to see pitches this Spring and not get too aggressive.”
Young’s play earned him All-Star honors in 2010 when he represented the D-backs in Anaheim. He finished the season with impressive numbers including 27 home runs, 91 RBI and 33 doubles. 
Young hopes that consistency at the plate will help him duplicate his 2010 success.
“I did kind of find my swing per say last year, and it’s a better feeling going into the offseason knowing what you feel like you need to work on,” Young said. “This offseason I stuck with my approach, and I feel like I have it down better right now even than I did last year. So hopefully I’ll get good results from it.”  

Kennedy Cruises Through Second Spring Start


Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
It was a perfect day for baseball at Salt River Fields on Friday as the Arizona Diamondbacks hosted the San Diego Padres in front of a sellout crowd. 
In his second outing of the Spring, Ian Kennedy made it look easy on the mound as he mowed through the Padres’ lineup. Kennedy is counted on to be an important piece of the D-backs rotation once again this season, and the right-hander clearly threw well on Friday.
In the first inning, Kennedy allowed a leadoff single to Eric Patterson, who was then caught stealing by D-backs catcher Miguel Montero. Kennedy struck out Jason Bartlett looking and retired Orlando Hudson via a groundout to first base.
Kennedy said his command was much improved from his first outing.
“I think as soon as you get your rhythm down, your timing is all there,” Kennedy said. “My fastball command was good. There’s some times where I missed my spot, but it helped because I got some outs on it too.” 
Kennedy also said he has been watching film of his previous starts to gauge where his tempo and rhythm was. 
In the top of the second inning, Jorge Cantu grounded out to third for the first out of the inning. Kennedy then froze Chris Denorfia on a breaking ball for a strikeout. 
Jesus Guzman singled to center, but was stranded as Kennedy responded by getting the last out of the inning on an Aaron Cunningham fly out.
Kennedy’s third and final inning was even more impressive.
The first two batters of the inning: Guillermo Quiroz and Tim Stauffer both struck out. Patterson then grounded out to cap off the 1-2-3 frame.
That would be all for Kennedy as he finished with a final line of three innings, two hits and four strikeouts. 
“I was really happy with my tempo, my rhythm,” Kennedy said. “I wasn’t happy with that last time. Physically, I felt good my previous outing, but I wasn’t happy with my tempo. I was leaving too many balls over the plate. This time I felt like my tempo was good. I tried slowing down.”
Borchering sees time at third
Among the many D-backs prospects that have taken the field this Spring Training is third baseman Bobby Borchering. The former 2009 first round draft pick is starting to see more time at third base and in the batter’s box. 
In Friday’s matchup against the Padres, Borchering laced a two out single into left field in the bottom of the fifth. 
Borchering hopes to take advantage of the opportunities to play in the Major League games. 
“It’s great,” Borchering said. “Anytime you can get in there, get a chance to play in front of a lot of people like you will in the regular season and get in there and get a little action a little earlier, I feel is an advantage for me.” 
Last season, Borchering posted a .270 batting average with 15 home runs and 74 RBI while playing for Single-A South Bend. For his first full season in professional baseball, Borchering felt like it was a great learning experience. 
“South Bend was a great city for me,” Borchering said. “My manager, Haley, was just great working with me. I learned a lot through the year. It was a great year.” 
With his the start of his regular season over a month away, Borchering has high goals for the rest of Spring Training.
“My goals for the Spring are to try and keep a little bit of weight on,” Borchering said. “I can sometimes get weight off pretty quick. Trying to eat a little bit more, and rest a lot. Just mentally, get in my routines and sticking with those, and keeping things simple.”

A Look This Weekend’s D-backs Pitching


David Hernandez – Photography: Jordan Megehardt
By Greg Salvatore
Ian Kennedy is making his second start of the Spring today against the San Diego Padres (this is the last time the D-backs will see their San Diego rivals until the regular season).
We haven’t given you a pitching update in a few days, so here’s a look at the pitchers who will be toeing the rubber over the next four days.
Friday vs Padres at Salt River Fields
Ian Kennedy
Mike Hampton
Juan Gutierrez
Daniel Stange
Joe Paterson 
Leyson Septimo
Yonata Ortega
Jordan Norberto
Josh Collmenter
Saturday vs. Rangers at Salt River Fields
Barry Enright
Armando Galarraga
Micah Owings
Rafael Rodriguez
Jordan Norberto
Sam Demel
Kevin Mulvey
Sunday vs Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium
Joe Saunders
Wade Miley
Brian Sweeney
David Hernandez
Kam Mickolio
Esmerling Vasquez
Monday vs. Royals at Surprise Stadium
Aaron Heilman
J.J. Putz
Josh Collmenter
Zach Kroenke
Monday vs. White Sox at Kino Stadium in Tucson
Zach Duke
Kevin Mulvey
Carlos Rosa
Jarrod Parker
The highlight of this list, to me, appears to be J.J. Putz’s inning against the Royals on Monday. Putz has been throwing plenty of side sessions in Spring Training so far, but this will be his first game inning.  
David Hernandez has looked excellent, throwing three scoreless innings in his first three outings, with two strikeouts. He’s one of the best options for the eighth inning this year, a guy who can throw strikes, miss bats and performed at a high level in the AL East, the most vicious division in the league. 
Aaron Heilman has looked fantastic in both of his starts, giving up only one hit and no runs in five innings. When he signed as a free agent, he wanted an opportunity to start. He has taken that opportunity and run with it. While he has proven he’s a reliable bullpen arm in the past, any default thought that he’d go to the bullpen because of the starting depth on this team has now flown out the window. So far, he looks like he’s going to force the front office to make some tough decisions on the roster, which is exactly the kind of competition Kirk Gibson has been promoting this year.