Merrill Kelly, who is living up to his KBO “reverse export” myth in Major League Baseball (MLB), has taken the World Series by storm.

The right-hander started Game 2 of the MLB World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on Monday (Sept. 29) and pitched seven innings of one-run ball for Arizona, allowing just three hits with no walks and striking out nine. Arizona defeated Texas 9-1 behind Kelly’s performance to even the series at 1-1.

It was Kelly’s first World Series start. “Kelly pitched the best game of his life in the biggest game of his life,” wrote The Athletic. In a dream World Series, Kelly pitched a dominant game. He struck out the side in each of the first three innings before giving up his first hit two batters into the fourth.

With a 2-0 lead, Kelly gave up his only run of the night in the bottom of the fifth inning. He gave up a one-run homer to Texas leadoff hitter Mitch Garber, but he didn’t falter. His fastball topped out at just 151 mph, which is mediocre by MLB standards, but he was able to keep them at bay with a variety of pitches. In the sixth inning, after Texas had batted around twice, he threw everything he could. He pressured leadoff hitter Marcus Semien with a slider and cutter-sinker, then turned to a fastball, while Corey Seager worked the count with a sinker and changeup before inducing a swinging strikeout with a cutter. Evan Carter cooked a curveball for a strike. He retired all three batters he faced in the sixth.

Kelly’s three-hitter in the sixth was a watershed moment in the game. Holding a slim 2-1 lead, the Arizona bats began to explode. They scored two runs in the seventh, three in the eighth, and two in the ninth to put the game out of reach.

Kelly was back on the mound in the seventh, recording two strikeouts and a groundout to complete her fifth shutout of the day. It was a near-perfect outing, save for one hit. She threw just 89 pitches through the seventh, 63 of which were strikes.

Kelly played four seasons in the KBO with SK (now SSG) starting in 2016. In 2019, he signed with Arizona to fulfill his MLB dream. Earlier this year, he also played in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) for the United States. The day before, Kelly said he looked over his shoulder twice at the words “World Series” on the wall of the press conference room. The dream continues, he said. Kelly had just pitched five innings of one-run ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, rallying his team from a 3-2 deficit. Entering the World Series, Kelly was still Arizona’s hope. He’s bounced back from his game-ending home run in Game 1. 스포츠토토

Game 3 of the World Series will be played on May 31 at Arizona’s home field, Chase Field. Rookie Brandon Phillips will start for Arizona. Texas will be led by three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer.