A 97 mph fastball doesn’t do much good if you can’t control it.
Boston Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly was proof of that Friday night, lighting up the radar gun but lasting just 4 2/3 innings in a 7-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Kelly’s fastball topped out at 98 mph and routinely surpassed 95 mph in his second outing since returning from the disabled list, but he struggled with his location. He walked three, hit a batter and allowed two home runs in what was a significant step back from his previous start, which featured 6 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball.
“I thought Joe had quality stuff,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters after the game, as aired on “Red Sox Extra Innings.” “… But he wasn’t as sharp at the overall location as he was the first time out for us.”
Friday’s start was Kelly’s second against the Blue Jays this season. He allowed 12 earned runs on 16 hits in 7 2/3 innings over those two starts but, thanks to the Red Sox’s bats, did not take the loss in either.
Kelly has not been charged with a loss since July 22 of last year, going 10-0 in 15 starts since.
Some additional notes from Friday night:
— Jackie Bradley Jr.’s hitting streak ended at 29 games Thursday night, but Xander Bogaerts’ still is going strong. The Red Sox shortstop singled in the fourth inning off Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez to extend his to 20 games — the longest active streak in the majors and the second-longest this season behind Bradley’s.
Bradley also notched a hit Friday, going 1-for-3 with a single, a walk and a run scored.
— Josh Donaldson enjoyed a phenomenal night for the Blue Jays, going 4-for-5 with a double, two home runs and five RBIs.
Troy Tulowitzki? Not so much.
The Blue Jays shortstop struck out four times, committed a fielding error that led to Boston’s first run of the game and was drilled with a 97 mph fastball from Matt Barnes. Zero fun, sir.
— Donaldson, the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player, provided the winning runs for Toronto with a two-run homer off Koji Uehara in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After the game, Farrell was asked if there’s a proper strategy for pitching to the heavy-hitting third baseman.
“If first base is open, yeah: four wide ones, the way he swung tonight,” the manager responded. “But he’s such a good player and does it in critical moments, as we saw. He had good success against Joe coming into this one, and that proved to be the case once again.”
Donaldson has feasted on Red Sox pitching all season, going 13-for-33 with three doubles, a triple, four home runs, 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored in eight games against Boston.
— Friday was a scheduled off-day for Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. Ortiz was available to pinch-hit and even was seen grabbing a bat during the ninth inning, but he ultimately was not called upon.
“All things considered, he’s still 40 years old,” Farrell told reporters before the game, as aired on “Red Sox Gameday LIVE.” “And we’ve got to take care of the days when, physically, it’s recommended. We’re in one of those days right now. He’s had some success against Sanchez, so there’s a number of factors that go into this decision, and preserving his long-term health — or heath for the remainder of the year — is primary.”
— The Blue Jays also were down a power hitter, with Jose Bautista serving the one-game suspension he picked up for his role in the Jays-Texas Rangers brawl earlier this month.
Bautista still made his mark on the ballgame, though, doing a bit of PA work while repping the crosstown Raptors.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Sousa/USA TODAY Sports Images