Red Sox Hope Joe Kelly Can Provide Innings, Lift, As He Did In New York

BOSTON — Joe Kelly enters Friday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles hoping to build off his first 2015 start for the Red Sox, who could use a shot in their pitching arms.

Kelly was excellent Saturday in an 8-4 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, allowing only one hit and one run and striking out eight in seven innings.

“Joe is coming off a solid outing in New York,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Friday’s game at Fenway Park. “I think our guys are very capable of stringing quality performances together. In the past turn through the rotation, it’s been inconsistent. The importance of keeping the game under control is very important.”

That has been an issue for the Red Sox of late, which has made the bullpen work extra. Boston gave up six runs through five innings to the Washington Nationals in Tuesday’s 8-7 win and eight runs through three innings during Wednesday’s 10-5 loss.

In fact, since Kelly’s win in the Bronx, only one Red Sox starter has pitched more than five innings in a game.

“I think our bullpen could use a lighter load tonight,” Farrell said. “The one thing that we don’t want Joe to do is go out and pitch with the thought of the bullpen on his mind. It’s to go out and execute as he’s capable and making pitches according to the game situations that are going to arise.

“It’s somewhat similar to his first start. We were coming off a 19-inning game and needed a starter to go deep in the game, which he did. I think Joe comes into tonight feeling pretty good about himself after his first start of the season.”

Kelly made two starts against the Orioles last season. The right-hander went 1-1 and gave up five earned runs and nine hits in 13 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and a .184 batting average against. He’ll need to be sharp Friday against an Orioles offense that ranks sixth in runs scored, fifth in hits, fourth in batting average and third in OPS among the 16 American League clubs.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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