Merrill Kelly, D-backs hold down Phils' Big 3 in Game 6

League: MLB

Posted on: 24 Oct, 2023 at 01:46 AM

Credit: Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

PHILADELPHIA -- Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly witnessed firsthand the power at the top of the Philadelphia Phillies' lineup the last time he was at Citizens Bank Park.

Leadoff man Kyle Schwarber took him deep twice and No. 2 hitter Trea Turner went deep, too, as the Phillies took a 2-0 National League Championship Series lead with a Game 2 victory.

Back on the mound in Game 6 on Monday, Kelly's goal was to not let those two or No. 3 hitter Bryce Harper beat him.

He did not.

The Diamondbacks held the Phillies' top three hitters to 0-for-9 with three strikeouts in a 5-1 win that evened the series and forced a Game 7 on Tuesday back at Citizens Bank Park.

"The game plan wasn't to change necessarily," Kelly said. "I went back and looked at my game. It was more just about executing, especially the early homers you talked about purely just weren't executed pitches. ... My priority was not really to really go back to the drawing board, but more just focus on each and every pitch."

The Diamondbacks have felt the power of the first three hitters in the Phillies' lineup throughout the NLCS. Schwarber, Turner and Harper combined for eight of Philadelphia's 10 home runs throughout the first five games in the series.

A power surge from Schwarber and Harper in Game 5 (the two combined to go 4-for-8 with two home runs and five runs) allowed the Phillies to hold the series lead when they returned home for Game 6.

On Monday, Kelly limited the Phillies' powerful 1-2-3 punch to 0-for-6 with four strikeouts and three walks during his five innings. He gave up one run on three walks and three hits while striking out eight. A second-inning RBI double by Brandon Marsh was the only blemish on his line.

"Harper and Schwarber are both super locked in right now," Kelly said. "They're not missing too many mistakes, so I'm not too mad about putting them on base right now. If the worst thing they did to me was a walk, I went in tonight being OK with that and just trusting that in between those guys I had confidence to get other guys out. I just really didn't want to have those guys beat me."

In Game 5 at Phoenix, Turner saw his 14-game postseason hitting streak (dating back to last year) end with an 0-for-4 outing. His woes continued into Monday night despite putting the ball to the warning track in his first at-bat. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

Schwarber finished 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout. Harper went 0-for-3, walked once and struck out twice.

"(Kelly threw) a lot of first-pitch strikes," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said postgame. "He did get us to chase a little bit. We just gotta get back in the zone tomorrow, and I feel like we can."

--Owen McCue, Field Level Media