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Jun 26, 2024 8:25 am

Ketel Marte, D-backs aim to continue good fortune vs. Twins

Ketel Marte

Arizona’s Ketel Marte has his sights set on making the National League All-Star team for the second time in his standout career, and his performance on Tuesday certainly helped his case.

The second baseman will take a stab at another productive outing on Wednesday night when the Diamondbacks face the Minnesota Twins in the middle contest of a three-game set at Phoenix.

Marte knocked in three runs as the Diamondbacks registered a 5-4 victory in the series opener Tuesday.

“What can you say about Marte? He’s a beast,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “Hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, has a big infield hit for that huge RBI.”

That “huge RBI” was beating out a slow grounder just to the right of second base with two outs in the seventh inning to drive in the decisive run.

“In that moment you just have to run hard, and I got there safely,” Marte said through an interpreter. “It worked out in my favor.”

The earlier homer was Marte’s 16th of the season. He is batting .280, slugging .507 and has 46 RBIs in 76 games.

Marte was the starter at second base in the 2019 All-Star Game. He currently leads the NL balloting at the position, with Luis Arraez of the San Diego Padres ranking second. Arraez primarily has played first base since being acquired from the Miami Marlins in early May.

Marte’s voting popularity certainly has received a boost by the big postseason he had last season when Arizona advanced to the World Series. Marte was NL Championship Series MVP when the Diamondbacks ousted the favored Philadelphia Phillies.

Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart each had RBI hits on Tuesday for Arizona, which has won nine of its past 14 games.

Minnesota has won 10 of its last 15 games despite Tuesday’s one-run loss. Byron Buxton had three hits, including a solo blast, and Ryan Jeffers belted a three-run homer that knotted the score at 4 in the top of the seventh.

“He’s a big, strong guy,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Jeffers. “When he hits the ball, it comes off the bat hot, and he’s capable of turning the game around, which he did (Tuesday) for us, and he got us back in the game.”

The Twins had just six hits overall on a night in which Baldelli felt the at-bats were solid.

“We had a few quick innings where we just put the ball in play,” he said. “A few of those innings — not hard-hit balls and we made some quick outs. But we also hit some balls really hard.

“It feels not great walking into the clubroom after a game like this thinking we did a lot right and played OK. You almost feel like you can win a game like that more than you can lose a game like that.”

Arizona right-hander Ryne Nelson (5-5, 5.18 ERA) will look for his third consecutive victory. He allowed three runs and nine hits over 13 innings while beating the Chicago White Sox on June 14 and the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

In the outing against Washington, Nelson gave up two runs — both on solo homers — and three hits over seven innings.

Nelson, 26, lost his lone career start against the Twins as he was roughed up for six runs and eight hits in three innings last August. Jeffers is 2-for-2 with a homer and double against Nelson.

Right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson (2-1, 3.26 ERA) will be on the mound for the Twins on Wednesday. The 23-year-old rookie is winless over his last four starts, going 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA.

Richardson received a no-decision Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays in his most recent turn. He allowed two runs and four hits over six innings.

–Field Level Media

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