Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly has a tall task on tap in Game 2 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
Kelly (2-1, 2.65 ERA in the postseason) will have to subdue Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia in order to help the Diamondbacks gain a split of the first two road contests of the best-of-seven series.
Seager tied the Game 1 with a two-run homer in the ninth inning and Garcia went deep in the 11th to give the Rangers a 6-5 victory on Friday.
“Just excitement. This is fun. This is playoffs. This is kind of what it’s all about,” said Seager, who has launched three of his four homers this postseason over the past five games.
Garcia’s eighth homer of the playoffs extended his RBI total to 22, eclipsing David Freese (2011) for the most in one postseason in major league history.
Keeping Seager, Garcia and company under wraps will be the responsibility of Kelly, who has sandwiched two strong outings around a less-than-desirable appearance.
Kelly, 35, scattered three hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings in an 11-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Oct. 7 before allowing four runs — including three homers — in a 10-0 setback to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series on Oct. 17. He rebounded six days later to permit just one run on three hits in five innings of a 5-1 victory over the Phillies in Game 6 of the NLCS.
Kelly fared well in his lone career start against Texas, yielding one run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings in a 4-1 win on July 28, 2020, in Arlington.
Kelly will have plenty of family in attendance on Saturday.
“All my roots are here,” he said. “My mom’s from Beaumont, (Texas,) which is right on the border of Louisiana. My dad is from Brownsville, which is about as far south Texas as you can go. My grandmother is actually coming over from Beaumont.
“So it’s cool to see the family support, especially with being at home and having my family and my wife’s family both there. … We probably don’t have much of the state of Texas behind us, but at least I know there’s at least my family that’s rooting for us for sure.”
Rangers left-hander Jordan Montgomery (3-0, 2.16) will provide the opposition on Saturday, a mere five days after picking up the win in relief against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
Montgomery, 30, tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings in Texas’ 11-4 win at Houston on Monday.
“I mean, coming out of the bullpen when you’re not used to it, you just pitched, is tiring,” Montgomery said on Friday. “But back on my five-day (routine), so I’ll be good.”
Montgomery has faced Arizona just twice in his career — and both starts came this season, with wildly different results. He surrendered seven runs on 10 hits in four innings of an 8-7 setback on April 18 while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals. He then scattered four hits over eight scoreless innings in a no-decision on Aug. 21 while competing for Texas.
Montgomery would be wise to pitch carefully to Ketel Marte, who ripped an RBI double in the fifth inning on Friday to extend his career postseason hitting streak to 17 games. The streak is tied for the all-time record, matching Hank Bauer (1956-58), Derek Jeter (1998-99) and Manny Ramirez (2003-04).