The Los Angeles Dodgers are no longer the San Diego Padres, but the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have missed fall baseball for the past five years in a row, have emerged as an unexpected contender.

Arizona won a three-game series at home against the Atlanta Braves 3-2 on Sunday. The Dodgers have won their last six games in a row, dating back to a win over the Boston Red Sox on April 29, improving their record to 35-23 (.603) on the season.

Tied for first place in the National League (NL) West with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the best record in the entire NL. A season ago, the San Diego Padres were rated as the NL’s best team over the Dodgers, but while they are languishing in fourth place in the division with a 26-31 record (.456 winning percentage), Arizona is turning things around.

At the center of it all is pitcher Merrill Kelly, a “reverse export myth” from the KBO’s SK Wyverns. Kelly tossed seven innings of five-hit ball (two homers), three walks, eight strikeouts, and two runs against the Atlanta offense. The right-hander continued his consistency, effectively mixing in six pitches – a sinker (37) that topped out at 94.8 mph (152.6 km/h), a cutter (24), a four-seam fastball (23), a slider (six), a changeup and a curveball (five or more).

To date, Kelly is 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 12 games (70⅔ innings) this season. Tied for first in the NL in wins and fifth in ERA. He and teammate Zach Gallon, who is 7-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 12 games (72⅔ innings) and 82 strikeouts, form one of the best starting one-two punch in baseball.

Outfielder Rueredes Gurriel Jr. and catcher Gabriel Moreno, acquired in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays after last season, have also been impressive. Gurriel is having a career-high season with a .905 OPS with nine home runs and 35 RBIs in 52 games, while catching prospect Moreno has also been a force on the offensive side of the ball with a .689 OPS with two home runs and 21 RBIs in 46 games with a 56 percent stolen base rate.

On the other hand, Basho, who split time between the outfield and catcher in Arizona last year, batting .253 (125-for-531) with 27 home runs, 74 RBI, 16 doubles and a .745 OPS in 151 games, hasn’t quite lived up to expectations in Toronto this year. In 57 games, he’s batting 2-for-46 (215-for-46) with nine homers, 24 RBIs and a .657 OPS, which is a lot of home runs but not a lot of power. Arizona’s trade win so far.

Plus, they got a superstar free agent. Outfield prospect Corbin Carroll, who signed a surprise eight-year, $111 million extension before the season, is taking the league by storm. In 55 games, he’s exploded on the offensive side of the ball, batting .191 (9-for-55) with nine homers, 24 RBIs, 16 doubles and an .888 OPS, making him a strong Rookie of the Year candidate.

As the team has improved, so has the Arizona crowd at home, Chase Field. Through 32 games, attendance is up from last year’s total of 28,529. After the third game, Kelly said, “The atmosphere at the ballpark was amazing. It’s the best atmosphere I’ve had since I’ve been here. We’re a really good team, and it’s great to see the fans get behind us,” he said. “Unlike the last couple years, we’ve been playing well early in the season, which has built our confidence.”

The team’s defense has also been a force, with just 20 errors, the second-fewest in the league. In Game 3, Moreno threw out Ronald Acuña 토토사이트 Jr. stealing second base in the first inning and Carroll made a spectacular sliding catch in center field to rob Michael Harris II of a hit in the third. In the bottom of the inning, Austin Riley doubled to left field, but the play was highlighted by a tight replay between left fielder Gurriel, shortstop Nick Ahmed and third baseman Emmanuel Rivera. First baseman Matt Olson was tagged out trying to get back to third base, ending the inning.

Arizona manager Torrey Lovullo said, “That’s a play you don’t see very often, and I think it showed our readiness on defense. I’m proud of that. We defended in a way that we don’t often do, and that’s why we won the game today.”

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