Struggles continue for D-backs' Kennedy
May 5, 2013 at 6:31p ET
After going 17 straight batters without giving up a hit, Kennedy hung changeups for home runs to two consecutive batters in the sixth inning, and that was that.
“That’s what sucks about this game. You throw two bad pitches in the last inning and it changes your whole day,” Kennedy said.
Rookie Jedd Gyorko had the big blow, a two-run homer on a 3-2 pitch from Kennedy with two outs and a runner on first base. Kennedy attacked the at-bat the same way he did when he struck out Gyorko on a changeup in the fourth inning.
This time, Gyorko fell behind 1-2 but laid off two changeups at the ankles. He then fouled another one off before Kennedy hung the last one; Gyorko did not miss it, hitting it 426 feet into the left-field bleachers for his first major league homer. Will Venable homered three pitches later.
“He’s got a great changeup. You don’t see very many right-on-right (batter against pitcher) changeups, especially as good as the one that he has,” Gyorko said. "It’s kind of a surprise pitch, especially when he is throwing it inside. Usually it’s a fastball coming out of a righty’s hand coming in. It’s something I’ll have to remember when we face him again."
It has been a rough start to the season for Kennedy (1-3), who has not won in his six starts since beating the Cardinals 6-2 with eight strikeouts in seven innings on Opening Day. He has not received a lot of run support -- the D-backs have scored six, one, zero, zero, four and one runs in the last six while he has been in the game, the only run Sunday coming on Didi Gregorius' bases-empty homer in the second.
As on Sunday, getting the final out of an inning has been a sticking point so far. Almost half of the runs Kennedy has given up -- 12 out of 25 -- have come with two outs. The Dodgers scored three two-out runs in the sixth inning of a 7-5 victory April 13, the only other start in which Kennedy has given up more than four runs.
He threw a season-high 111 pitches in 5 2/3 innings Sunday, leaving after Venable’s homer made it 5-1. His ERA rose to 5.19, the highest it has been at this point in the season in his four years in Arizona.
“I just couldn’t put away anybody," Kennedy said. "There were times when I had two strikes on guys and I didn’t have that put-away pitch, whether it was my fastball or my changeup, especially in those big situations. When you need to strike somebody out, didn’t do it. Its pretty frustrating.
“This game is terrible sometimes. You leave two bad pitches out there, and you have five runs instead of two.”
Kennedy has gotten through these kinds of streaks before, and they usually occur early in the season. He was winless in eight straight starts from late May to early July in his first year in the rotation in 2010, and he had a six-game winless streak last season that began the last week of April.
He is averaging about one more walk a game than in the last two seasons, a function of falling behind hitters and not wanting to give in later in the count.
“I just have been able to locate. My location has been off. There are times when it doesn’t really matter, depending on the situation -- if there is a base open. Today, I was falling behind and not throwing a good enough pitch,” he said.
“I don’t feel like I’m throwing that bad until today. Today, just throw it away. You just take them hard because you only pitch once every five days, and it weighs so much on you until I pitch at home against the Phillies. It’s just really tough. That’s my seventh start. I still have 25 more of those. It is still a long season.”
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