Things may have finally turned around for Ian Kennedy.
The Diamondbacks’ right hander, off an injury-plagued 2009 season, reports he’s recovered and beginning to find a nice grove. That was evident Wednesday night when the 25 year old hand-cuffed the San Francisco Giants for eight innings and the Diamondbacks exploded for six home runs and nine extra base hits. The result was an isolated blow-out victory and a 13-1 Arizona win before a sparse crowd of 17,073 at Chase Field..
In the process, Kennedy recorded his third win of the season, limited the Giants to three hits, one run and struck out a career-high nine hitters in eight innings of work. No, he said, there was no talk of a complete game, and something further from his mind.
“I guess about the only guy who thinks about (a complete game) is (the Phillies) Roy Halladay,” he said. “Look, complete games are so hard to accomplish and my goal is to go as deep into games as I can.”
Against the Giants, Kennedy also tied a career high of pitching eight innings, and that was set twice earlier this season. He went eight innings against the Phillies on April 24 and matched with an eight inning effort against the Cubs at Wrigley on April 29.
The fact that Kennedy is in the rotation at all is an accomplishment and testament to his drive. In 2009, he appeared just five games, four at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre and one game with the Yankees in late September. He spent nearly all of last season recovering from right shoulder surgery.
Despite coming to the D-Backs as part of a three way deal to Arizona over the winter, Kennedy was on the Diamondbacks radar screen for some time, and the franchise appeared to have waited for the proper moment to show interest.
“We looked at him as far back as college (at the University of Southern California),” said A. J. Hinch, the Arizona manager. “We had a history on him and just because we picked him up last winter doesn’t mean we did not notice him before.”
After allowing a first inning run, Kennedy settled into a pattern of spotting a two-seam fastball and keeping hitters off balance with a nasty curve ball. At one point, he retired 13 straight hitters and by the time Pablo Sandoval broke the streak with a lead-off double in the seventh, the Diamondbacks were out to a 7-1 advantage.
For the night, Kennedy threw 116 pitches, 72 for strikes and Chad Qualls mopped up in relief duty.
Along the way, the Diamondbacks tied a franchise record with six home runs, including two from Adam LaRoche. Shortstop Stephen Drew drilled a three run shot in the fifth, and that broke open a 2-1 D-Backs lead.
“I got ahead in the count,” Drew said. “At that point, I’m looking to put a good swing on it, and the pitch was up. I was able to drive it, and it went out.”
That created a 5-1 lead and other dingers came off the bat of Justin Upton, Kelly Johnson and Chris Snyder.
The team tied that franchise mark with six home runs in one game. That equaled the six hit against the Oakland A’s on July 17, 2008. It was also the fourth time that six were hit in a game at Chase Field, three times by the D-Backs opposition.
Too bad the team cannot save some power production for Thursday night for the D-Backs draw Tim Lincecum, the Giants two-time Cy Young Award winner. In eight starts so far in 2010, Lincecum is 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA. No talk of facing one of the best in the game, but only relief at the ability to gain a win at Chase Field.
“It’s been a while that we won at home,” Hinch added. “Yes, this team is streaky about hitting home runs. More importantly, can we be a consistent team. That’s the key.”
A major test is Thursday when the D-Backs attempt to successfully challenge one of the game’s best.
For the record and before Wednesday night, the last time the D-Backs won at home was an 8-6 victory over the Phillies April 25.