My what a difference a month makes! At the start of October, Arizona Diamondback fans had a wild card spot to look forward to; definitely a sign of progress and something to build off of next season, but cheap and available seats spoke the story of a fanbase that was expecting nothing but a few bets on the house’s money. Now, near the end of October and coming off a 9-1 shallacking of the Texas Rangers in game 2 of the World Series, the entire area is buzzing, and one of the biggest reasons why is a local boy done well.
Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly is a local; he cut his teeth as a standout for Desert Mountain High in North Scottsdale, but then stayed loyal to the area, heading to Arizona State even after being drafted into the major leagues. That loyalty is now paying serious dividends, and it all came to a head yesterday as of the time of writing.
In game 2 of the World Series, Kelly was the starting pitcher and had a truly standout performance on the biggest stage possible. After a brutal game 1 loss in extra innings, Kelly shook off the disappointment to be dominant in game 2, pitching seven innings and giving up a mere four hits, one run, and walked no Rangers hitters while striking out nine of them. This performance paved the way for a towering 9-1 victory for the Diamondbacks, evening the World Series at one win apiece.
Any local sports fan has almost certainly been taken back to the only major sports championship that Arizona has ever had, the 2001 instant classic World Series win against the New York Yankees. However, the parallels are more than just a standard look back in time; the exemplary pitching rotation from the Diamondbacks team featured Curt Schilling, another Valley native who stood out at Shadow Mountain High in Phoenix.
Will Kelly get another chance to start and potentially close out this series on behalf of the D’backs? It’s tough to tell at this point. Perhaps the more interesting development is former Diamondback Max Scherzer starting game 3 for the Rangers. In the 2022 World Series, the game 2 starting pitchers started again in game 6, and barring unforeseen circumstances (such as Kelly being called up in relief in an extra inning game), we can probably presume that will be the case here. Most Diamondbacks fans would be delighted if game 6 never came to fruition however, and Arizona clinched the Series at home in game 5.
If the Diamondbacks end up winning the World Series, game 2 will likely be considered a major turning point. After a crushing defeat in game 1 where they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, a letdown and a downward spiral of sorts could have been inevitable. But due to an All Star-level performance by one of our locals, the opposite happened. The Legend of Merrill Kelly is being written by the day, another glorious statement for a city that is already on a roll.