Following a 5-3 loss to the Phillies in Game 1 of the NLCS, the Arizona Diamondbacks will once again bravely head into the lion's den looking to steal a win amid a sea of exceptionally loud fans who don't do a whole lot of sitting.
The D-Backs' starting pitcher for Game 2 on Tuesday night is Merrill Kelly. After conducting a very standard Q&A with the media to discuss the series and his start, Kelly managed to instantaneously make himself the unfortunate focal point the very moment he takes the field at Citizens Bank Park.
The clip of Kelly that's been catching fire on social media is only 11 seconds long, but it's a loaded 11 seconds that quickly opened the eyeballs of Phillies fans who were probably already a special kind of fired up.
Here's what Kelly inexplicably delivered on a silver platter in terms of the expected crowd noise:
Tonight?s Dbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly just gave Philly fans a challenge pic.twitter.com/1MgRbYjLFK
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) October 17, 2023
"Going into the WBC game, yeah, I think that, I haven't obviously heard this place on the field. But I'd be very surprised if it trumped that Venezuela game down in Miami," he said.
This is seriously an unbelievable quote from a 35-year-old seasoned veteran who has to be well aware of the hostile environment his team is heading into. But apparently not?
Kelly isn't wrong about the crowd for the World Baseball Classic being awesomely rowdy. But everything else is pretty puzzling, particularly the part where says he hasn't even heard the place on the field.
But it doesn't exactly take an on-field pitching experience to get a crystal clear gauge on what the Diamondbacks will be treated to. Has Merrill Kelly somehow not seen a single inning of a Phillies home playoff game this postseason? The guy is a starting pitcher. He can't be that busy. Then again, whether he has or not really doesn't make a difference.
The question is, why in the world would Kelly so voluntarily poke the bear? The Philly crowd was already a mortal lock to be clinically insane, just as we have witnessed throughout the course of the playoffs. By speaking out, Kelly has unknowingly turned up the heat significantly and placed an enormous target on his back for Phillies fans to happily direct their wrath.
There's been such a noticeable difference between a baseball game being played in Philly versus anywhere else that it's reached the point where ESPN's Jeff Passan compared the atmosphere to a freaking Southeastern Conference football game.
Jeff Passan on Citizens Bank Park: ?It?s an SEC stadium in baseball.? ? pic.twitter.com/wWAivCdnxH
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) October 4, 2023
Best of luck to the very brave Merrill Kelly. One thing he does have going for him is that in one postseason start against the Dodgers — a team they swept despite finishing 16 games behind Los Angeles in the NL West — Kelly was fantastic, going 6-1/3 innings and allowing no runs on three hits.
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