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Joe Kelly gets standing ovation from Fenway Park crowd

Rob Bradford
April 13, 2018 - 11:55 pm

It has been one of the most remarkable two-week turnarounds in recent Red Sox history.

This has nothing to do with wins and losses, or playing good or bad. The story of Joe Kelly's past 15 days is all about public perception.

Flash back to March 29 at Tropicana Field, when Kelly four-run implosion -- during which he retired just one batter -- paved the way for the Red Sox' Opening Day loss. In the days that followed there wasn't a player who was catching more slings and arrows from the New England fandom that the relief pitcher.

Then we had Friday night.

Two days after Kelly had hit Yankees designated hitter Tyler Austin, waving him on to fight just in front of the mound before briefly taking Austin down to the ground, the relief pitcher officially completed a  turnaround for the ages.

Upon coming in to pitch what seemed like a seemingly innocuous eighth inning -- with the Red Sox holding a four-run lead -- Kelly was greeted with a standing ovation from the Fenway Park crowd. The "Joe Kelly Fight Club" t-shirts were one thing, but this was next level.

"That standing O was freaking badass," Kelly told WEEI.com. "It got me hyped. It's one of those moments I will remember forever."

Kelly went on to pitch a perfect inning, striking out Adam Jones before getting ground outs from Pedro Alvarez and Chris Davis to ground out.

"I thought it was awesome," said Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes. "I told the guys out there in the bullpen, 'That's sick!' Stuff like that gets you fired up. I thought it was cool."

Kelly is still awaiting word on his appeal regarding the six-game suspension Major League Baseball handed down for his role in Wednesday night's brawl.

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