Joe Kelly flirted with a no-hitter last weekend in his return to the Boston Red Sox’s rotation. He did not fare nearly as well Friday night in Toronto.
Kelly lasted just 4 2/3 innings in the opener of a three-game series between the Red Sox and Blue Jays, allowing five earned runs on nine hits.
That poor start did not doom Kelly’s club — Boston rallied to tie the game late — but a two-run home run by Josh Donaldson in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference in a 7-5 win for the Blue Jays.
GAME IN A WORD
Donaldson, the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, was an absolute monster for Toronto, going 4-for-5 with a double, two home runs and five RBIs.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Donaldson took Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara deep to break a 5-5 tie in the eighth, and Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna shut the door on the Sox with a perfect ninth.
David Ortiz, who was given the night off for rest purposes, was not called on to bat in the final inning despite being available to pinch-hit.
ON THE BUMP
— Kelly had no issue with velocity in his second start since returning from the disabled list, frequently touching 97 mph with his fastball throughout his outing. Command was another story, however, as the Red Sox starter walked three batters and hit another while also allowing two doubles and two home runs.
The first homer came off the bat of Donaldson in the opening inning and gave the Blue Jays an early 1-0 lead. Kelly worked around two singles to strike out the side in the second, but Toronto got to him again in the third, with Ezequiel Carrera leading off with a single and scoring on a Donaldson double.
The fourth inning was especially rough for Kelly, who faced eight batters, threw 30 pitches and allowed two additional runs in the frame. He allowed another solo homer to lead off the fifth — this one off the bat of Justin Smoak — and a double by Kevin Pillar three batters later prompted John Farrell to go to his bullpen.
Kelly’s final line: five earned runs on nine hits and three walks with eight strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
— Matt Barnes relieved Kelly and got Carrera to ground to first to end the fifth inning. He retired the first two batters of the sixth, allowed the next two to reach — walking Michael Saunders and drilling Troy Tulowitzki — and struck out Smoak to retire the side.
— Junichi Tazawa set the Jays down in order in the seventh.
— Uehara allowed a leadoff bunt single and Donaldson’s blast, then retired the next three men he faced, striking out two.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— While Toronto’s first run came via the long ball, Boston plated its first without hitting a ball out of the infield.
Travis Shaw reached on a throwing error to lead off the second inning and took second as first baseman Smoak ran to gather Tulowitzki’s errant toss. Shaw then advanced to third on a groundout to first by Hanley Ramirez and came home when Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded to second.
— The Red Sox did not notch their first hit against Sanchez until the fourth inning. Xander Bogaerts singled with one out in that frame, extending his hitting streak (the longest active streak in the majors) to 20 games.
Bogaerts then went from first to third on a bloop single by Shaw and scored on a base hit by Ramirez to tie the game at 2-2.
Bradley followed by drawing a walk to load the bases with one out, but Marco Hernandez lined into a double play to strand the runners.
— After going down in order in the fifth and sixth, Boston’s bats perked back up in the seventh. Ramirez and Bradley again were at the center of the action, walking and singling to start the inning and coming around to score on a two-run base hit by Christian Vazquez.
— Boston still trailed 5-4 after Vazquez’s clutch hit, but it was able to pull even one inning later thanks to some very shaky defense by Toronto’s outfield.
Miscommunication between Saunders and Pillar allowed a fly ball by Dustin Pedroia to fall for a leadoff double. A flyout then sent Pedroia to third, and Shaw drove him in with a sharply hit infield single in to tie the game.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Rick Porcello will take the ball Saturday afternoon for the Red Sox opposite Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman. First pitch is set for 1:07 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Sousa/USA TODAY Sports Images