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Kelly Excels Following South Korean Stint as Diamondbacks Crush Rangers 9-1 to Level World Series 1-1

by Sophia Chen
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World Series

Merrill Kelly described his four-year journey through South Korea’s baseball circuit as akin to a “Lost in Translation” scenario. Upon his World Series debut, it was the Texas Rangers hitters who seemed out of sorts.

The 35-year-old right-handed pitcher delivered a three-hit performance over seven innings. Concurrently, Ketel Marte extended his postseason hitting streak to an unprecedented 18 games. The Arizona Diamondbacks overwhelmed the Texas Rangers with a 9-1 victory on Saturday evening, leveling the World Series at one game each.

“Given the experiences in my career, very little can surprise me now. A stint in Korea at age 26 was far more daunting than appearing in the major leagues or even in the World Series,” Kelly commented.

Kelly recorded nine strikeouts, issued no walks, and conceded his lone run via Mitch Garver’s leadoff home run in the fifth inning. He accumulated 22 called strikes, marking the highest count for a World Series pitcher since Stephen Strasburg in the 2019 series for the Washington Nationals.

Torey Lovullo, the Diamondbacks’ manager, considered the possibility of Kelly completing the game. “To reach that milestone of a full game, considering he was at 89 pitches, would require nearly 35 more pitches. I wasn’t prepared to push him to 120 pitches,” Lovullo stated.

Gabriel Moreno hit a decisive home run in a two-run fourth inning against Jordan Montgomery. Additionally, Tommy Pham went 4 for 4, including two doubles. The Diamondbacks, showing resilience after a tough loss the prior night, dominated late in the game.

Marte achieved a two-run single in a three-run eighth inning, surpassing the previous record for the longest postseason hitting streak held jointly by Derek Jeter, Manny Ramírez, and Hank Bauer. Marte has now hit safely in every postseason appearance he has made.

Just a day after squandering a two-run lead in the ninth inning and subsequently losing 6-5 in 11 innings, the Diamondbacks outclassed Texas with 16 hits to 4— the most hits by a single team in a World Series game in nearly a decade.

Contributions also came from Emmanuel Rivera, who secured a two-run single, and rookie Corbin Carroll, who added two RBI singles. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and veteran Evan Longoria each contributed run-scoring singles for Arizona, which secured its first World Series win on the road after four consecutive losses dating back to 2001.

The best-of-seven series will move to Arizona for Game 3 on Monday, marking the first World Series match in Phoenix since 2001.

The Rangers have been undefeated in their eight road games this postseason, tying a Major League Baseball record.

“We can’t assume we’ll easily win four straight against a team as competitive as the Diamondbacks,” noted Rangers first baseman Nathanial Lowe.

Kelly, initially drafted by Tampa Bay in 2010, played six seasons in the minor leagues before a South Korean scout spotted him. He subsequently played in South Korea for SK Wyverns in Incheon from 2015 to 2018.

Reflecting on his journey during the post-game interview, Kelly said, “Each morning in Korea, I’d brew coffee and check MLB scores. It felt like I was worlds away, both literally and metaphorically.”

Kelly has a career record of 48-43 in the Major Leagues since debuting with Arizona in 2019. He posted a 12-8 record and a 3.29 ERA in 30 starts this season and has a 3-1 record with a 2.25 ERA in four postseason starts.

In other highlights, Tommy Pham, acquired from the New York Mets at the trade deadline, shook off a 3-for-29 slump with a strong performance. He attributes his resurgence to the self-help book “Good Is The Enemy Of Great,” recommended by one of his mentors.

Jordan Montgomery, who pitched in relief and won Game 7 of the ALCS against Houston, saw a slight dip in his pitching velocity. Diamondbacks hitters made contact with 35 of his 37 pitches.

The game duration was 2 hours and 59 minutes, making it the quickest World Series game since 2017.

The next game will feature Texas right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer, who has a 0-1 record and a 9.45 ERA in this postseason, against Arizona rookie right-handed pitcher Brandon Pfaadt, who has a 2.70 ERA in the postseason but has yet to record a decision.

For more information, visit AP MLB.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about World Series

Q: Who was the standout performer in the Diamondbacks’ victory over the Rangers in the World Series?

A: Merrill Kelly, the 35-year-old right-handed pitcher, delivered an exceptional performance, pitching seven strong innings and leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 9-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in the World Series.

Q: How did Ketel Marte contribute to the Diamondbacks’ win?

A: Ketel Marte extended his remarkable postseason hitting streak to a record 18 games and played a pivotal role in the Diamondbacks’ victory with a two-run single in the eighth inning.

Q: What was the significance of Gabriel Moreno’s contribution to the game?

A: Gabriel Moreno’s go-ahead home run in the fourth inning was a crucial moment in the game, providing the Diamondbacks with a lead they would not relinquish.

Q: How did Tommy Pham break out of his recent slump?

A: Tommy Pham, who had been struggling at the plate, had a standout game, going 4 for 4 with two doubles, helping the Diamondbacks secure their victory.

Q: What records were set during this game?

A: Ketel Marte’s hitting streak of

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