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 living the KBO’s reverse 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 March 3 (KST).
Kelly has been an integral part of the team’s starting rotation this season with his fantastic pitching. He continued his dominance today, leading the team to their sixth straight win.
Kelly faced an Atlanta lineup of Ronald Acuña Jr. (right field), Matt Olson (first base), Austin Riley (third base), Sean Murphy (catcher), Travis d’Arnaud (designated hitter), Eddie Rosario (left field), Aji Albies (second base), Orlando Arcia (shortstop), and Michael Harris II (center field).
The Atlanta lineup is a potent offense, ranking second in the National League in team home runs and on-base percentage. Against such a talented offense, Kelly was at his best.
He gave up an infield single to leadoff hitter Acuña Jr. in the first inning, but was able to strand the next two batters with a steal of home by catcher Gabriel Moreno. The first run came in the top of the second. Two batters later, Rosario hit a solo shot to right-center field to make it 1-2.
In the top of the third, he got some help from the bats, who continued the Hosmer parade. Leadoff hitter Harris II’s line drive was snagged by center fielder Corbin Carroll with a diving catch to prevent a run from scoring. Two batters later, Riley hit a double down the left-field line, but the outfield made a fantastic relay play to nab the runner at first base.
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 had one close call 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 메이저사이트(seven innings pitched, three earned runs or fewer), five hits (two home runs), three walks and eight strikeouts.
“The last couple years we’ve lost in those situations, but we had the confidence to finish the game,” Kelly told TSN after the game, adding, “Those (dramatic) games are why we play baseball. We showed good energy against a really good team,” he said of the win.
Arizona 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. The Dodgers are joined in the division by the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, and Colorado Rockies.
Arizona has struggled in recent years. The Dodgers, San Francisco, and San Diego have dominated the top of the standings, but this year, the team’s unexpected run has created some tension in the National League West.