The Boston Red Sox’s road trip is winding down on a positive note.
The Red Sox on Tuesday defeated the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 at Great American Ball Park. Boston has won back-to-back games for the first time since opening the second half with four straight victories.
Yoenis Cespedes, who hit a clutch home run in Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Angels, drilled another important long ball Tuesday. The recently acquired slugger crushed a two-run, go-ahead blast off Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton in the eighth inning.
The Red Sox will return to Fenway Park for an 11-game homestand starting Thursday. First, they’ll play one more game against the Reds.
Let’s go over some notes from Tuesday’s action.
— It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.
Joe Kelly can take solace in that philosophy. Kelly began his second start in a Red Sox uniform Tuesday with back-to-back walks. He allowed the first four hitters to reach base en route to surrendering two first-inning runs. Fortunately for the right-hander, he settled down and ultimately lasted six innings.
Kelly allowed two runs on five hits and three walks before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. He also produced a single and stole third base, further displaying his impressive athleticism.
Kelly’s stolen base was the first by a Red Sox pitcher since 1969 (Bill Landis). He became the first Red Sox pitcher to steal third base since 1959 (Tom Brewer).
“That’s a pretty cool stat,” Kelly told reporters in Cincinnati. “I figured since I was in the AL, I wasn’t going to get many more chances. I always told my team (I could steal), but the Cardinals never let me run because I pulled my hammy. I figure this might be my only opportunity, and I at least wanted to get one in there and I saw the right opportunity and just took it.”
The Red Sox, like Kelly’s former team, certainly would prefer that the pitcher not pull his hamstring on the bases. They have to appreciate the aggressiveness, though.
— Cespedes is making noise with his new team.
Cespedes’ game-winning home run off Broxton traveled an estimated 433 feet. It was absolutely demolished to straightway center field.
What made Cespedes’ home run especially emphatic was that the slugger nearly ate a fastball the pitch prior. Broxton tossed a 95 mph heater up near Cespedes’ lips to open the eighth-inning showdown. Cespedes jumped all over the next pitch — a 95 mph fastball on the outside corner — to put Boston in front.
— It sounds like Cespedes will stay in left field for the remainder of the season.
The Red Sox initially planned to try Cespedes in right field with Shane Victorino sidelined for the rest of 2014, but Farrell said before Tuesday’s game that Boston likely will delay that experiment until spring training.
— Brock Holt set the stage for Cespedes’ two-run homer with a leadoff single in the eighth.
— Xander Bogaerts collected two hits, including an RBI single in the seventh inning.
Bogaerts entered the game stuck in a 2-for-25 slump.
— Bogaerts actually missed Cespedes’ clutch home run because he was taking care of business elsewhere.
“To be honest, he was hitting, (Daniel) Nava was on-deck, so I was in the bathroom. I didn’t see it at all,” Bogaerts told NESN’s Gary Striewski. “I just heard the guys in the dugout screaming, so afterwards I ran out. It already passed. He was just running the bases.”
— Anthony Ranaudo, who will make his second major league start Wednesday, was recalled before Tuesday’s game. Edwin Escobar was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
The current plan calls for Brandon Workman, who has struggled of late, to miss one turn through the rotation.
“We felt like (Workman) could use some extended rest,” Farrell said before Tuesday’s game. “And I think as much as of what’s happened last year with pitching two more months than he’s ever pitched in his life has had some carryover. All things combined, we’re giving him a little bit of a breather and hopefully we’ll be able to stay away from him this time through the rotation.”