Merrill Kelly (35, Arizona Diamondbacks) continued the KBO reverse export legend by leading to a big win in his major league postseason debut.
Kelly started in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the LA Dodgers in the ‘2023 Major League’ held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, USA on the 8th (Korean time) and pitched 6⅓ innings, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, and no runs, pitching 11-2. achieved a great victory. It was Kelly’s first postseason win and his first win against the Dodgers in 17 games.
Kelly threw mainly fastballs (31) and cutters (30), while also throwing changeups (15), curves (6), sinkers (5), and sliders (2). His highest fastball velocity was 95.5 miles (153.7 km), his cutter maximum velocity was 94.4 miles (152 km), and his sinker velocity was the fastest at 96.3 miles (155 km).
Arizona was the 6th seed in the National League and was the underdog on the last train of fall baseball. However, they pulled off an upset by winning two games in the wild card game against the third-seeded Milwaukee Brewers, and continued their momentum in the first game of the division series against the second-seeded Dodgers. Arizona proved with today’s game why it is the leader of this fall’s sensation.
Kelly is a pitcher who is very familiar to Korean baseball fans. Kelly was a long-serving foreign ace who played for SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) for four seasons from 2015 to 2018. He recorded 48 wins, 32 losses, 729⅔ innings, 641 strikeouts, and an earned run average of 3.86 in 119 games in the KBO League. Kelly made a golden return to the U.S. Major League when he signed with Arizona ahead of the 2019 season, and established himself as the second starter, paving the way for foreign players from the KBO League to return to the big league.
Kelly, who debuted in the major leagues in 2019 at the age of 30, has thrived. He started 32 games in his first year and earned a spot in the starting rotation, posting a record of 13 wins, 14 losses, 184⅓ innings, and an earned run average of 4.42. In 2020, a shortened season of 62 games was played in the aftermath of COVID-19, and in 2021, he was sluggish and did not achieve 10 wins, but he has clearly established himself as the second starter with 13 wins in 2022 and 12 wins this year. His career record in 127 big league games is 48 wins, 43 losses, 750⅔ innings, 681 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.80.
Kelly appeared on the mound in the big league postseason for the first time today. It is true that he was more worried than excited. Because his opponent was the Dodgers. Kelly started a total of 16 games in the regular season against the Dodgers, also in the Western division of the National League, with no wins, 11 losses, 83⅔ innings, and an ERA of 5.49. The Dodgers are the only team that Kelly failed to secure a win among in the National League West Division. There are wins against the Colorado Rockies (5-3), San Diego Padres (9-3), and San Francisco Giants (7-5).
Kelly benefited from strong scoring support. From the top of the first inning, the batting line pounded Dodgers left-handed ace Clayton Kershaw, scoring a whopping 6 runs. With leadoff hitter Ketel Marte on base with a double, Corbin Carroll hit a timely hit to take the lead 1-0. With no outs on 1st and 2nd base on Tommy Pam’s hit, Christian Walker hit a double to left to make it 2-0.
The Arizona bats finally brought down Kershaw in the first inning. With the second and third bases without outs, Gabriel Moreno hit a left-handed three-run shot to extend the lead to 5-0. It was certainly not common for Kershaw to give up 5 runs on 5 hits in a row right from the start. After one out, Alec Thomas got a walk, and Evan Longoria hit a timely double in the middle of the month to extend the gap to 6-0. The Dodgers were replaced on the mound by Emmett Sheehan. Kershaw came off the mound with a shocking report card of 6 hits (1 home run), 1 walk, and 6 runs in ⅓ innings.
Arizona’s batting lineup’s scoring support did not end there. In the top of the second inning, Carroll extended the lead to 7-0 with a superior home run, proving that Kershaw wasn’t the only one on fire with the bat. In the ensuing opportunity with one out and runners on first and second base, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a timely double to make it 8-0, and with one out and the bases loaded, Longoria hit a sacrifice fly to right field to make it 9-0.
In the top of the 7th inning, Alec Thomas hit a solo shot to right-center field to extend the distance to 10-0, completely breaking the Dodgers’ will to chase.
Unlike when he gave up 11 losses, Kelly completely tied down the Dodgers’ batting lineup. The bottom of the third inning was the only critical moment. Leadoff hitter Miguel Rojas was sent out with an infield hit in front of the second baseman, and Freddie Freeman was sent out with a walk at first base with one out, putting the team in danger of being on first and second base for the first time. Kelly completely stopped the Dodgers’ momentum by fielding Will Smith with a fly ball to right field and returning Max Muncy with a ground ball to first base.
Kelly also came on the mound in the bottom of the 7th inning. He walked leadoff hitter JD Martinez, but was able to break the flow by striking out Jason Hayward on a swing. With a 10-run lead and only 89 pitches, they could have gone further.
However, the Arizona bench chose to activate the bullpen. Rather, with a 10-point lead, I chose not to overwork Kelly further and adjust his condition so that he can prepare for his next appearance. When manager Torrey Lovullo came up to the mound to replace the pitcher, Kelly looked a little sullen and then smiled. He indicated that he wanted to throw more, but Coach Lobulo consoled Kelly and sent him to the dugout.
Arizona added an extra run in the top of the 8th inning, making Dodger Stadium even more deserted. With one out, Tommy Pham hit a dominant solo shot to secure an 11-0 victory.
The Dodgers chased up to 11-2 in the bottom of the 8th inning with no outs on first and second base, thanks to Will Smith’s superior two RBI and a timely triple, but it was difficult to chase anymore.
The Dodgers’ pride must have been quite hurt by the loss that day. Dodgers fans expressed their disappointment to the extent of booing when Kershaw was featured in the first inning, and when the game was down to 10 runs, Dodger Stadium was almost empty. The Dodgers were a team that won the district championship with 100 wins (62 losses) in the regular season, but it was even more disappointing that they were held back by Arizona, which came in last place in the wild card.토토사이트
Although Kershaw collapsed early, the batting line did not exert any effort at all. While Arizona scored 13 short and long hits, it bowed its head by producing only 4 long and short hits. It was painful to see that key hitters who were supposed to ignite the batting lineup, including Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Max Muncy, all fell silent with no hits. Fortunately, third hitter Smith struggled, going 2 hits and 2 RBIs in 4 at-bats. It doesn’t look like the Dodgers will have an easy time counterattacking if they give up Game 2 while Arizona’s gusts are unusual.
Meanwhile, in the first game of the National League Division Series between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies held on this day, Philadelphia won 3-0.
Atlanta, which won 104 wins (58 losses) this year and received the No. 1 seed in the National League, was caught by Philadelphia, creating an upset. Philadelphia starting pitcher Ranger Suarez went down in charge of 3⅔ innings, and six bullpen pitchers poured in, allowing 9 scoreless innings. In the batting lineup, Bryce Harper went 2-for-2, including a home run, 2 walks, 1 RBI, and 2 runs scored.
Atlanta’s first starter, Spencer Strider, a pitcher with 20 wins in the regular season, pitched well with 5 hits (1 home run), 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, and 2 runs (1 earned run) in 7 innings, but was blown away by the empty pitches of the batting lineup.