Joe Kelly was not the savior the Boston Red Sox needed Wednesday night.
Making his first major league start in nearly a month, Kelly could not contain the Houston Astros, who jumped out to a four-run lead and held on for a 4-2 win at Minute Maid Park. It was the seventh consecutive loss for the reeling Red Sox, tying a season high.
GAME IN A WORD
The team that leads the league in home runs took Kelly deep three times in the ballgame, including two by left fielder Preston Tucker. It was the first career multi-homer game for the 25-year-old Tucker, who’d hit just six in 57 major league games entering Wednesday.
Those three homers accounted for all four Astros runs.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Trailing by two in the top of the eighth inning, the heart of the Red Sox order was unable to push a run across against Houston’s ace setup man, Pat Neshek.
David Ortiz walked in the frame, but Xander Bogaerts and Alejandro De Aza both struck out, and Hanley Ramirez flied out to shallow left field, screaming in frustration as he did.
Closer Luke Gregerson retired the Sox in order in the ninth to lock down the win for the home team.
ON THE BUMP
— Kelly’s return to the bigs was a rough one from the start, as Tucker bombed the right-hander’s seventh pitch of the game over the center field fence. Kelly responded by striking out the next two batters to end the inning.
More trouble ensued in the second, with Houston putting runners on the corners with one out. Kelly benefited from a failed bunt attempt by Jake Marisnick, however, and struck out No. 9 hitter Jason Castro.
That second inning featured the second error in two games by a Red Sox catcher, as Blake Swihart’s attempt to catch Colby Rasmus stealing second sailed into center field. Swihart atoned for his mistake an inning later, however, gunning down leadoff man Jose Altuve for the final out of the third.
Kelly, who allowed at least one baserunner in each of the first five innings, surrendered his second homer of the night in the fourth. Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis got a hold of a first-pitch slider that left the yard in a hurry.
Tucker went yard a second time in the fifth — this one a two-run shot — and after recording the first out of the sixth, Kelly was given the hook. His final pitching line read as such: 5 1/3 innings, four runs, six hits, one walk, one hit batsman, six strikeouts.
— Robbie Ross Jr. relieved Kelly. He allowed a two-out double to Jon Singleton but stranded the Astros first baseman at second.
— Alexi Ogando was extremely lucky to leave the seventh inning unscathed after allowing a leadoff single and bundling a potential double play by throwing a ball into center field. Tucker foiled another double-play attempt by beating out Bogaerts’ relay to first, but the Red Sox finally converted the DP they needed when Carlos Correa grounded out 6-4-3 to end the innings.
— Tommy Layne worked a perfect eighth, striking out one.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— The Red Sox’s bats were dead asleep until the fifth inning, when Ramirez finally smacked a ground ball into left field for his team’s first hit. The left fielder also was Boston’s first baserunner, working a walk back in the second.
Astros starter Collin McHugh followed up Ramirez’s single by hitting De Aza to put runners on first and second with no outs. Shane Victorino proceeded to fly out to shallow center, though, and Mike Napoli grounded into an inning-ending double play.
— The Red Sox at last got on the board in the sixth thanks to Dustin Pedroia’s first hit since June 24. Pedroia, who had gone hitless in his first 20 at-bats since returning from the disabled list, roped a double into right-center field to score Swihart from first and cut Boston’s deficit to 4-1.
With McHugh still yet to record an out in the inning, Brock Holt and Bogaerts followed up Pedroia’s double with consecutive singles to drive in another run.
The Astros right-hander buckled down after that, however, retiring the next three batters to limit the damage and strand two runners in scoring position.
— Boston also began the seventh with consecutive singles but were unable to push either runner across. An unsuccessful sacrifice bunt by Swihart resulted in the first out at third base, and McHugh went on to induce a foul popout before striking Holt out to complete the scoreless frame.
— The Red Sox as a team finished with seven hits, including four in the sixth and two more in the seventh, but no Boston batter recorded more than one. Ortiz and De Aza were the only ones to go hitless, though both reached by other means.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Blake Swihart bunts into an out at third. Again, the Red Sox were 6-for-9 off McHugh last time through before that AB.—
Tim Britton (@TimBritton) July 23, 2015
The Sox conclude their three-game series with the Astros on Thursday before beginning a 10-game homestand back at Fenway Park.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP