Ian Kennedy had a career year in 2011, and he’s finally starting to show that form.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are seeking consistency of their own as they try to get back into the NL West race.
Kennedy looks to win a season-high third consecutive start by continuing his success against the visiting New York Mets on Saturday night.
Kennedy (8-8, 4.20 ERA) a 21-game winner last season, setting personal bests in wins, ERA (2.88), strikeouts (198) and innings pitched (222) while emerging as Arizona’s ace. The right-hander has struggled locating that consistency in 2012, going 4-2 with a 4.84 ERA in nine home starts.
He was 11-2 with a 2.64 ERA at Chase Field last year.
Kennedy, though, is starting to put together a strong stretch after winning back-to-back starts. He was impressive in Monday’s 6-3 win over Colorado, yielding two runs with seven strikeouts in eight innings.
That performance came five days after he fanned seven and allowed one run in eight innings of a 7-1 victory at Cincinnati.
“I went out there and just wanted to do it like we did it last year and just pound the zone,” Kennedy said after his latest outing. “Overall, I feel like I’m locating my changeup better, that it’s down instead of up.”
Kennedy has had little trouble against the Mets (48-52), winning all three starts behind a 3.50 ERA. That includes two home games while giving up two runs in 12 innings.
Arizona (50-50) could use another strong performance as it tries to overcome a 3 1/2-game gap on second-place Los Angeles and 5 1/2-game deficit to West-leading San Francisco.
The Diamondbacks re-established some momentum after winning for the sixth time in eight games by beating New York 11-5 on Friday following a 3-1 defeat to open this four-game set.
Chris Young is 8 for 22 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in the last seven games after getting two hits and plating two runs Friday. That stretch has raised the center fielder’s season average 17 points to .223. However, he’s 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts against Mets scheduled starter, also named Chris Young.
New York’s tailspin is showing few signs of ending, dropping 13 of 15 to fall 11 1/2 back of NL East-leading Washington.
Young (2-4, 3.91) will try to begin reversing that stretch by getting his first win in five starts. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.70 ERA in four outings, but he has a 2.77 ERA in his last two while being backed by three total runs.
Young overcame a shaky first inning Monday when he allowed two runs, regrouping with six shutout innings after that and seven strikeouts overall in an 8-2, 10-inning defeat to Washington.
He’s made nine starts since returning from major shoulder surgery that kept him out for over a year.
“It’s a good outing, but it’s not good enough,” Young told the team’s official website Monday. “I’ll keep building on it. I hope to get stronger as the season progresses. But it’s just tough to evaluate that stuff right now.”
Young is getting his first start against the Diamondbacks since allowing one hit in six innings of a road victory with San Diego in 2010. He’s 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA in six starts at Arizona.