Many Arizona Diamondbacks fans were probably scratching their heads when manager A.J. Hinch put Kelly Johnson in the leadoff spot for the game against the San Diego Padres instead of, say, Conor Jackson or Mark Reynolds. After all, the second baseman's performance as a leadoff hitter has been fairly inconsistent in recent years, especially last season with the Atlanta Braves.
Thankfully, Johnson completely justified his skipper's faith -- and then some -- by blasting a pair of homers that helped fuel Arizona's 5-3 victory over the Friars last night at Chase Field to win the three-game series.
As the very first D-Backs batter of the evening, the 28-year-old connected on a 0-1 fastball by San Diego's Kevin Correia, knocking it over the center field wall. He came through again with a game-tying, two-run homer in the fifth inning when the Snakes were down 3-1.
Justin Upton and Chris Young also had a productive night, providing a pair of jacks that enabled the come-from-behind victory. Arizona fell into its hole after a few regrettable pitches from Ian Kennedy, who made his regular season debut for the Snakes after his trade from the New York Yankees last December.
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The right-hander started out tossing offspeed pitches that whiffed past such Padres as Everth Cabrera and David Eckstein, but former D-Backs outfielder Scott Hairston plunked a 3-2 curveball into the right field seats during the second inning for a three-run downtowner. Kennedy recovered from the setback and fanned a eight batters until exiting in the start of the fifth. Overall, his performance was similar to that of fellow New Yawker Edwin Jackson, with the difference being that Arizona's offense coughed up some timely runs.
Arizona gets a day off from the baseball diamond before welcoming the Pittsburgh Pirates to town for a three-game series. Much like the Diamondbacks, the Buccos are off to a good start after placing dead last in their division in 2009. They've spent the last two nights besting the Los Angeles Dodgers in their first two games of the season, including yesterday's 4-3 win in 10 innings.
Rodrigo López gets the ball for the D-Backs and will hopefully continue to shine on the mound like he did during spring training (where he amassed an impressive 2.35 ERA in five games). The Mexican-born pitcher will go against Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.