ARLINGTON, Texas — How many body blows does it take to keep the Diamondbacks down on the mat?
Their opponents have yet to find out.
The dramatic fashion in which the Rangers beat the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday night had the feeling of a comeback that could have lasting effects. But 24 hours later, the Diamondbacks had simply shrugged it off and were heading home with the series tied at one.
Behind a gem from Merrill Kelly and a scrappy lineup that kept adding on late, the Diamondbacks ran away with a 9-1 win over the Rangers in Game 2 of the World Series on Saturday night at Globe Life Field.
“That game shows the world who we’ve been,” veteran third baseman Evan Longoria said. “Shows the baseball world what we’ve been all year. Come out, do that, plug away, play our game and after a tough loss [Friday] night, to be able to come back and do that is pretty impressive.”
Kelly shut down the Rangers’ potent lineup with seven sterling innings in which he struck out nine and walked none.
His only blemish was a solo home run off the bat of Mitch Garver in the fifth inning, but he otherwise cruised.
The right-hander retired the first 11 batters he faced and the last seven to silence the sellout crowd of 42,500 for most of the night.
The Diamondbacks pounded out 16 hits while building up a lead that was big enough that the Rangers could not erase it against the Arizona bullpen like they had the night before.
Seven of their runs and eight of their hits came across the final three innings, turning a 4-1 lead into a blowout.
“We did it in a way that is very reflective of the group that we are,” said Longoria, who chipped in an RBI single in the seventh inning. “It wasn’t with the long ball, it was just working good at-bats, driving the ball all over the field, taking advantage of mistakes and consistently putting pressure on the opposing pitchers.”
Though the Diamondbacks had come within two outs of taking Game 1 on Friday night — only to see Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia deliver game-tying and game-winning home runs in the ninth and 11th innings, respectively — they did not allow it to demoralize them.
The 84-win team that crashed the postseason just by getting to the Fall Classic are going to make a series out of it.
“We’re a resilient group,” said closer Paul Sewald, who blew the two-run, ninth-inning lead on Friday night. “It starts with our starting pitcher tonight [Kelly], somebody who’s been counted out a million times that has pitched absolutely wonderfully the last two games when our backs were against the wall as much as possible. That’s a credit to him. I feel like it comes from [general manager Mike Hazen] down to [manager Torey Lovullo] and all the way down.”
Ex-Met Tommy Pham spearheaded the offensive attack Saturday with four hits, including a pair of doubles, and scored two runs.
Ketel Marte broke the game open in the eighth inning with a two-run single that made it 6-1. It extended Marte’s postseason hitting streak to 18 games, setting an MLB record that was previously shared by Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez and Hank Bauer.
The Diamondbacks made it a grind for Rangers left-hander Jordan Montgomery. The former Yankee held them to just two runs through six innings before allowing back-to-back hits to open the seventh and getting pulled. Both runs came around to score as the Diamondbacks began to pull away.
“I expected it,” Longoria said of a bounce-back performance. “We’ve done it all year. At the end of the game, I’m happy to see that on this stage, we were able to do that. We’ve done it during the regular season. We’ve done it throughout the postseason. We’ve been down early in games, down early in series and we’ve found a way to battle back and win the games that we need to win.
“When you look at big-picture stuff, if somebody told us that we’re going to go into the World Series and play at Texas and split on the road, we’ll take that 100 percent of the time.”