Kennedy fans 12 as D-backs offense awakens
PHOENIX — After a day of mini-drama, Ian Kennedy brought some peace to the Diamondbacks' night.
Kennedy did what aces do in a 10-0 victory over Colorado at Chase Field — he controlled the Rockies offense and gave the D-backs plenty of time to find their own.
It did not take long. While Kennedy struck out nine of the first 16 batters he faced, the D-backs backed him with seven runs in the first four innings in their second shutout in three days. The win evened the series with the Rockies at one game apiece.
It was the D-backs' most decisive victory of the season, and it helped take the sting out of remarks made to the website Pros2preps.com by managing partner Ken Kendrick earlier in the day. Kendrick questioned injured shortstop Stephen Drew's commitment to returning this season and called right fielder Justin Upton an "enigma" who should be more consistent by this stage in his career.
Those points were overshadowed by the D-backs' play on the field.
The D-backs (26-30) had a season-high 17 hits, while Jason Kubel and Aaron Hill had three hits apiece and were both a double short of the cycle. Kennedy, meanwhile, tied his career high with 12 strikeouts, leaving after six innings when his pitch count reached 103.
"Ian threw great. We swung the bats well. Hopefully it's a spark-plug to get us going," Kubel said.
Is the D-backs' best lineup the one without Upton, who sat Tuesday for the second time in four days.
But Gerardo Parra had another big game while starting in right field for Upton, tying a career-high with four hits from the leadoff spot. Parra has hit safely in his last four games and has homers in his last two starts. Unlike his homer in San Diego on Sunday, a fan did not touch Parra's bat before this one.
It would seem difficult to keep Parra out of the lineup Wednesday, but it's not something he concerns himself with.
"If you don't make it happen today, you play tomorrow," Parra said of receiving regular playing time. "But you know what? I don't think like that. But if I don't play tomorrow, I'm ready when ‘Gibby' needs me. I feel good. We have a lot of energy."
Hill's two-run home run with two outs in the second inning got the D-backs going, and Kubel's two-run homer in the third made it 4-0. Kubel added a two-run single and Chris Young also singled in a run in a three-run fourth.
Kennedy, meanwhile, pounded the strike zone, leading with his fastball while benefiting from a mechanical change. Bullpen coach Jeff Motuzas noticed a difference in Kennedy's delivery a week ago, and Kennedy returned to his 2011 form in a 4-1 victory over San Francisco on May 30, breaking a career-long five game losing streak.
"I just made sure I did the same thing, the ‘Tuze' secret," said Kennedy, now 5-5 with Tuesday's win.
"The last two (starts), I found something, an old thing that I had been doing in the past. For some reason you get out whack. So I've got back on that, and make sure I'm watching a lot of film of myself and doing the same drills.
"It kind of helped me stay on top of the ball. Just a minor mechanical thing. When I am out there on the mound, I feel when I get under pitches. I tell myself that little key. It might be a little mental thing, but it feels like the ball is coming out of my hand a little better."
Kennedy struck out the side on fastballs in the first inning, getting Carlos Gonzalez to chase a 3-2 fastball at the letters with a runner on second and one out. He struck out two batters in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings.
Kennedy pitched his way through his only real jam in the second inning. After the Rockies loaded the bases on two hits and an intentional walk, Kennedy blew fastballs by pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler to end the inning. The Rockies (24-31) were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against Kennedy.