Kelly dominates after Korea detour as Diamondbacks rout Rangers 9-1 to tie World Series 1-all

ARLINGTON, Texas — Merrill Kelly called his four-season detour to South Korea a “Lost in Translation” experience. When he made his World Series debut, it was Texas Rangers batters who were disoriented.

The 35-year-old right-hander pitched three-hit ball over seven innings, Ketel Marte extended his postseason hitting streak to a record 18 games and the Arizona Diamondbacks routed Texas 9-1 on Saturday night to even the World Series at one game apiece.


“At this point in my career, nothing is going to shock me,” Kelly said. “I think going over to Korea as a 26-year-old is way scarier than pitching in the big leagues or even in the World Series.”

Kelly struck out nine, walked none and allowed his only run on Mitch Garver’s leadoff homer in the fifth on a sinker at the bottom of the strike zone. His 22 called strikes were the most for a Series pitcher since Stephen Strasburg in Game 6 for the 2019 Washington Nationals.

“I thought he might go nine innings today at one point,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said, contemplating what would have been the first complete game in the World Series since 2015. “But for that to happen, 89 pitches, you’ve got to jump him up probably another 35. I wasn’t going to let him throw 120 pitches.”

Gabriel Moreno hit a go-ahead homer in a two-run fourth against Jordan Montgomery, and Tommy Pham went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles. Arizona batters broke it open late as the young Diamondbacks rebounded quickly from an agonizing defeat the night before.

Marte had a two-run single in a three-run eighth, snapping a tie for the longest postseason hitting streak with Derek Jeter, Manny Ramírez and Hank Bauer. Marte has a hit in every postseason game he’s ever played.

A night after wasting a two-run, ninth-inning lead in a 6-5, 11-inning loss, the Diamondbacks outhit Texas 16-4 — the most hits for one team in a Series game in nine years.

Emmanuel Rivera also had a two-run single, and rookie Corbin Carroll had a pair of RBI singles. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and 38-year-old Evan Longoria each singled in a run for Arizona, which got its first World Series road win after four losses dating to 2001.

The best-of-seven Series, just the third between wild-card teams, shifts to Arizona for Game 3 on Monday in the first Series game at Phoenix since 2001.

Texas has won all eight of its road games this postseason, equaling a major league record.

“We’d be naive to think that we’re going to run away with four in a row against a team that really fights hard like the same way we did,” Rangers first baseman Nathanial Lowe said.

Kelly was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2010 and had spent six seasons in the minors when he was told by pitcher Doug Mathis he had been spotted by a South Korean scout while pitching in Rochester, New York. Kelly’s agents at Apex Baseball arranged a contract and Kelly spent 2015-18 with SK Wyverns in Incheon.

“I definitely had visions and images about me sitting on this podium,” Kelly said in the postgame interview room, recounting how he got up each morning, made coffee and checked MLB games. “It felt literally and figuratively miles away.”

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