Ian Kennedy Showing He's the Real Deal as Arizona Diamondbacks Starter

Great old-school game last night between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Houston Astros at what used to be called Enron Field (before the mighty financial fall).


D-Backs eked out a 1-0 win in a stellar pitcher's duel between the excellent Roy Oswalt and the Snakes' Ian Kennedy, who won his second game in as many starts after 16 previous attempts (with Arizona and other teams) without a victory.

Kennedy is a 25-year-old onetime star for the University of Southern California who was the 21st overall pick of the 2006 draft (New York Yankees, of all teams), earning $2.25 million for merely signing his first contract.

But let's talk about hitting superstar Justin Upton (in the photo) for a sec. He accounted for the only run the D-Backs needed.  

Back to Kennedy. He made it to the major leagues within a few years but struggled and bounced back and forth from Triple-A. Then, almost exactly a year ago, Kennedy underwent surgery to take care of an aneurysm under his right armpit--his pitching arm.

The D-Backs picked him up in the off-season in a trade, but he was an iffy commodity going into the regular season.

So far in this still-young season, Kennedy has proved to be a diamond in the rough, a gritty competitor whose 6 2/3rds innings of shutout ball last night didn't come easy.

We have to say that the home-plate umpire had a zone about as wide as Jefferson Street -- both pitchers were getting strike calls on pitches that seemed two or three inches on either side of the plate.

But that's cool with us, i.e. the final score.

Upton's solo homer in the third inning -- a 447-foot monster to centerfield that ranked as the 10th-longest shot in the history of what now is known as Minute Maid Park -- provided the D-Backs with that one run in this pitching duel.

Leftfielder Gerardo Parra's spectacular diving catch of a sinking line drive by Geoff Blum ended the game, a sweet win for Arizona that lifted the team's overall record to 13-14, while Houston dropped to a lowly 8-18.

The third of four games against the Astros in this series is scheduled to start at 5:05 tonight, and will be aired on FSAZ (Channel 34), KTAR-FM (92.3), and KSUN-AM (1400). For more information, go to www.diamondbacks.com.



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