The Boston Red Sox needed a quality start from Joe Kelly on Saturday with their offense struggling to score runs.
He didn’t deliver, and the Sox lost 7-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. They’ve now been outscored 14-1 in the first two games of this weekend series.
Kelly ran into a bit of trouble in the first inning when a single and two walks loaded the bases with one out. He was able to get out of the inning with just one run allowed on a sac fly to right field. His three walks in the first matched his season high for an entire game.
Kelly allowed more base runners in the second via multiple hits and another walk. The Jays scored on an RBI single by Josh Donaldson to take a 2-0 advantage. They loaded the bases later in the inning but weren’t able to add a third run because Russell Martin struck out on a 3-2 count with a check swing that he couldn’t hold up on.
After a perfect third, which was badly needed after he ran his pitch count up to 61 through the first two innings, Kelly continued to struggle in the fourth.
Two more walks set the stage for a 3-run homer by Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, which increased Toronto’s lead to 5-0. It was only a matter of time before Kelly’s walks really hurt him.
Kelly pitched a 1-2-3 fifth inning and exited in the top of the sixth after recording the first two outs. His final line: six earned runs, four hits, seven walks and three strikeouts in 109 pitches over 5 2/3 innings.
Kelly was throwing hard throughout the game, but his command, particularly with his fastball and curveball, was not good. He was trying to paint the corners with his fastball too often instead of attacking hitters and making them prove they can hit 98 mph.
Over his last four starts, Kelly has an 8.86 earned run average, with 26 hits and four home runs allowed in 21 1/3 innings. He’s allowed five earned runs or more in each of those outings.
Kelly isn’t the only starter struggling because the rotation as a whole has been inconsistent all season. The starter sets the tone for the entire game, and the Red Sox, like they did Saturday, are giving up too many runs early in games. They have allowed 24 first-inning runs in 30 games.
The Sox lineup won’t be under so much pressure if Kelly and the rest of the rotation are able to put up a couple 0’s in the first few innings.
Thumbnail photo via Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Images
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