Merrill Kelly, D-backs blast Rangers, level World Series

League: MLB

Posted on: 29 Oct, 2023 at 04:39 AM

Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to show no fear, distancing themselves from the heartbreak of the World Series opener with a convincing 9-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday in Game 2 at Arlington, Texas.

Merrill Kelly went seven strong innings, Ketel Marte set a major league record by extending his playoff hitting streak to 18 games and the Diamondbacks evened the series at a game apiece in their first postseason since 2017.

Gabriel Moreno hit a home run, Tommy Pham had four hits and Corbin Carroll drove in a pair of runs on two hits for Arizona. Marte's record-breaking hit was a two-run single in the eighth inning that gave Arizona a five-run lead.

"That's what we've been doing all season, we're on the same page," Marte said through an interpreter on MLB Network. "That's the type of team we are to be able to do that.

"Continue to do the same thing, playing small ball and having fun."

Kelly (3-1) gave up one run on three hits with no walks and nine strikeouts and lowered his postseason ERA to 2.25 across 24 innings.

Arizona bounced back after a heartbreaking defeat in Game 1 when Texas' Corey Seager hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning and Adolis Garcia hit a game-winning homer in the 11th.

"Starting pitching, you have to get ahead and stay ahead," Kelly said. "If I don't get ahead, I have to work behind, I have to throw pitches in counts I don't want to throw them in. Obviously a lineup like that, with Seager and Garcia with what he's doing right now, I gotta make sure I'm getting ahead and stay ahead."

The series now shifts to Phoenix for Games 3, 4 and 5 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Arizona is 3-1 at home in the playoffs, while going 7-3 on the road.

After giving up two runs over six innings, Rangers starter Jordan Montgomery (3-1) was allowed to start the seventh, where he was charged with two more runs.

Mitch Garver hit a home run for the Rangers, who fell to 2-4 at home in the playoffs.

"I think we realized second time through the lineup we weren't getting many pitches to hit," Garver said. "(Kelly) executed his stuff and we ran out of barrel a lot of times."

Moreno broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning with a solo shot to center field, his fourth home run of the playoffs. Christian Walker followed by grounding out to third base on a spectacular diving stop by Rangers third baseman Josh Jung, which failed to shift the momentum.

Pham then doubled for Arizona and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

Kelly was rolling early, not giving up his first hit until the Rangers' Evan Carter smacked a single with two outs in the fourth inning. Garver brought Texas within a run at 2-1 with his homer in the fifth inning, his third of the playoffs.

The D-backs got to Montgomery quickly in the seventh with an Alek Thomas leadoff double and an RBI single from Evan Longoria. Left-hander Andrew Heaney replaced Montgomery, with Carroll delivering a two-out RBI single for a 4-1 advantage.

"You look at that but he was pitching well, he'd done such a great job and that is something you have to be aware of," Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said about letting Montgomery open the seventh inning. "They had a left-hander leading off the inning so we said we would let him start it."

Marte's two-run single in the eighth scored Pham and Emmanuel Rivera to give him 11 RBIs in the playoffs. Carroll added an RBI single in the inning for his 10th postseason RBI. Rivera plated two more with a single in the ninth.

--Field Level Media