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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Late-inning heroics go Arizona’s way in Game 2 of World Series

By Shawn McFarland Dallas Morning News

ARLINGTON, Texas – Not even Corey Seager and Adolis García could save this one.

Especially not when Tommy Pham had as many hits as the entire Texas Rangers lineup, and especially not when the Arizona Diamondbacks execute their offensive strategy to a tee.

The Rangers, flummoxed by Arizona starting pitcher Merrill Kelly and beaten down by the Diamondbacks’ effective use of small ball, dropped Game 2 of the World Series 9-1 on Saturday at Globe Life Field. They’ll travel to Phoenix on Sunday and play Game 3 on Monday with right-hander Max Scherzer on the mound.

Kelly, according to Baseball Savant, used six pitches to hold the Rangers to three hits over seven innings: a fastball, change-up, sinker, cutter, slider and curveball. He struck out nine Texas batters, three with his fastball, two with his cutter, one with his slider, one with his change-up and another with his sinker.

The 35-year-old right-hander retired the first 11 batters he faced before rookie Evan Carter blooped a single into center field in the bottom of the fourth inning. Carter, 21, has recorded a hit in 13 of the Rangers’ 14 playoff games and reached base in each. Fellow rookie Josh Jung, in the bottom of the fifth, had the third of Texas’ four hits with a two-out single into left. Marcus Semien led the bottom of the ninth off with a single for their fourth and final base hit.

The Rangers’ second hit scored their lone run. Designated hitter Mitch Garver led the bottom of the fifth off with a solo home run into left field to cut Arizona’s lead to 2-1. Garver’s third homer of the postseason came on a Kelly sinker that was low, inside and just on the fringes of the strike zone.

Kelly retired nine of the next 10 hitters he faced and struck out five of six batters between the sixth and seventh innings, including Texas’ No. 1-through-3 hitters in the sixth. According to MLB’s Sarah Langs, only four pitchers – Clayton Kershaw (11), Don Necombe (11), Cliff Lee (10) and Deacon Phillippe (10) – have recorded more strikeouts with zero walks in a World Series game. Kelly and lefty Andrew Saalfrank, who pitched the eighth inning, combined to retire 10 consecutive Texas hitters between the fifth and eighth innings.

Arizona’s offense, meanwhile, did exactly what it does best. Of the Diamondbacks’ 16 hits, 13 were singles. They recorded nine against Rangers starter Jordan Montgomery alone, who allowed four earned runs in six innings pitched.

Montgomery – five days removed from a 32-pitch relief appearance in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros – did as much as he could with as little as he had. The 30-year-old’s velocity was down significantly across the board: His four-seam fastball (91.6 miles per hour), sinker (91.9 mph) and curveball (78.7 mph) were each at least 1.4 mph slower than his season average.

The Diamondbacks swung at 37 of Montgomery’s pitches and missed on just two. He didn’t elicit a swing-and-miss until the top of the fifth inning, and according to Inside Edge MLB on X, formerly known as Twitter, Montgomery had never pitched that deep into a start without generating one.

Of the nine hits Montgomery allowed, six came on either his fastball or sinker. Arizona catcher Gabriel Moreno drilled a middle-middle Montgomery sinker 413 feet into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen for a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Pham, two at-bats later, sliced a Montgomery sinker down the right-field line for a double (his second of four hits) and scored on a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. single (which came off of an inside fastball) to make it 2-0.

Arizona scored twice in the top of the seventh to take a 4-1 lead: Alek Thomas clubbed a Montgomery curveball into right-center for a leadoff double and scored on an Evan Longoria single, which also came on a curveball. Rangers manager Bruce Bochy lifted Montgomery in favor of left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney, who recorded two groundball outs before Corbin Carroll singled into left field to score Longoria – who reached second base on a Geraldo Perdomo sacrifice bunt – and extend the lead to three runs.

Pham led off the sixth with a single off Chris Stratton.

Stratton retired the next two batters he faced and was replaced by Martin Perez, who proceeded to let three runs score on two walks and two singles. He allowed two more runs in the top of the ninth on three singles.

The Diamondbacks’ three sacrifice bunts – two of which directly helped move an eventual run-scorer to second base – were the most by any team in the World Series since the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers.