BOSTON — Wednesday’s game might have been the pick-me-up the Red Sox’s rotation needed.
While Joe Kelly’s start in Boston’s 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, who had been undefeated, wasn’t perfect, it was a far cry from his first outing, during which he gave up seven runs over three innings. The right-hander’s secondary pitches were generating swings and misses, and Kelly said that was something he was focusing on.
“It was a point of emphasis going into the game (Wednesday),” Kelly said. “They have some lefties, so we had a chance to get that going and, like I said, try to throw some breaking pitches and fastball counts to a really, really good lineup.”
Kelly got himself into trouble a few times, as is evidenced by his five walks and the fact that he threw 116 pitches over five innings, but he minimized the damage. His one real misstep was a two-run homer to Chris Davis in the third.
“That home run, he’s 6-foot-5, frickin’ 300 pounds,” Kelly said. “That wasn’t the worst pitch ever, and he put a good swing on it, hit it opposite field here. It’s pretty tough to do. You just got to keep guys like that, him and (Mark) Trumbo, just try to keep them off balance the whole time.”
After the rest of the bullpen helped Kelly lock the game down, closer Craig Kimbrel got his revenge against Davis, who hit a three-run dinger off him Monday. Kimbrel struck out the side this time, including Davis, to earn his second save of the year.
“He’s like so many great closers, where if a day doesn’t go well, he’s got a short memory,” manager John Farrell said. “Wants to get right back to it. Fortunately we were able to provide a lead in the ninth, and he did a great job.”
Here are some more notes from Wednesday’s win.
— Farrell said before Wednesday’s game that the next part of the rotation starting Friday would be Rick Porcello followed by David Price, Steven Wright and Clay Buchholz.
— It turns out you can quiet Boston’s offense somewhat. David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, who are hitting for the Red Sox’s best averages, both went hitless. Ortiz, however, was walked twice.
— Not being the everyday closer seems to be a great thing for Koji Uehara, as he’s back to being his dominant self. The Red Sox’s set-up man has retired 15 of the 17 batters he’s faced this season, giving up his first hit Wednesday and one walk on April 8. His ERA is at 0.00, and he has a 0.40 WHIP.
— Eduardo Rodriguez threw 50 pitches Wednesday in a simulated game. Farrell said before Wednesday’s game that the left-handed starter now will go on a five-day work plan and will pitch a live game in extended spring training at some point before he moves to an affiliate.
— Reliever Carson Smith threw a 35-pitch bullpen, which Farrell said went well.
— Things also are looking up for Christian Vazquez, who’s been getting regular playing time with Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said that catcher’s arm strength isn’t 100 percent, but he’s progressing.
“The most encouraging thing is he’s coming back to cold weather, there’s been no issues as far as getting loose in between innings,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game. “… We’ve taken the two games on, one day off approach, so he’s getting closer. Nothing to announce, as far as when we might see him here, but he’s doing a very good job and getting closer.”
Farrell still hasn’t ruled out carrying three catchers on the 25-man roster.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel pitches during the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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