An unlikely team is injecting tension into the sluggish National League West. The team is the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the key to their success is Merrill Kelly, 35, who is writing his own KBO export myth.
Kelly made his 12th start of the season against the Atlanta Braves in the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, on 3 March (KST).
Kelly has been an integral part of the team’s starting rotation this season with his fantastic pitching. He continued that momentum today, pitching well to lead the team to their sixth straight win.
Kelly faced an Atlanta lineup of Ronald Acuña Jr. (right fielder), Matt Olson (first baseman), Austin Riley (third baseman), Sean Murphy (catcher), Travis d’Arnaud (designated hitter), Eddie Rosario (left fielder), Aji Albies (second baseman), Orlando Arcia (shortstop), and Michael Harris II (centre fielder).
The Atlanta lineup is a potent offensive force, ranking second in the National League in team home runs and on-base percentage. Against such a talented team, Kelly was at his best.
In the first inning, leadoff hitter Acuña Jr. gave up an infield single, but catcher Gabriel Moreno stranded the next two batters with a double play. The first run came in the top of the second. Two batters later, Rosario hit a solo shot to right-centre to make it 1-2.
In the top of the third, he got some help from the bats, who continued the Hobby Parade. Leadoff hitter Harris II’s line drive was snagged by centre fielder Corbin Carroll with a diving catch to prevent a run from scoring. In the second inning, Riley hit a double down the left-field line, but the fielders made a fantastic relay play to nab the runner at first base as he dived for home.
Kelly retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth innings, then got out of the sixth without allowing a run. In the top of the seventh, she gave up another solo home run to Rosario one out later, but retired the next two batters to end the inning.
The team faced one more threat after Kelly went down. With a 3-2 lead and runners on first and third in the top of the ninth, closer Miguel Castro got out of the jam to preserve the win. Kelly earned his seventh win of the season with a Quality Start Plus (three earned runs or less in seven starts), allowing five hits (two home runs), three walks and eight strikeouts in seven innings.
“The last couple of years we’ve lost in those situations, but we had the confidence to finish the game,” Kelly told TSN after the game. “Those (dramatic) games are why we play baseball. We showed good energy against a really good team,” he said of the win 메이저놀이터.
Arizona, meanwhile, improved to 35-23 on the season with the win. They are tied for first place in the National League West with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Along with the Dodgers, the division also includes the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, and Colorado Rockies.
Arizona has struggled in recent years. The Dodgers, San Francisco, and San Diego have held down the top spots, but this year, the team’s unexpected run has created tension in the National League West.