On Friday night the Red Sox will be north of the border to start a three-game series with the Blue Jays. Boston will begin the series by sending Joe Kelly to the mound, while Toronto will be depending on the right arm of Aaron Sanchez.
Kelly (2-0) will be making his second start for the Sox after a stint on the DL with a right shoulder impingement. Kelly had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning in his first start back from the DL last Saturday against the Indians. In that start it didn’t appear Kelly needed much time to get used to facing big league hitters again, as he began the contest by retiring 13 straight. Kelly ended up throwing 6 2/3 innings and giving up just one hit, no runs and three walks while striking out seven. Kelly’s stellar comeback outing lowered his ERA from 9.35 to 5.28 to go along with a 1.82 WHIP.
“Overall command of the fastball was very big today,” Kelly said after the start. “I was throwing it to both sides of the plate. I just felt super strong out there. All the work we’ve been putting in since I went on the DL of getting the shoulder stronger in the training room, it’s just good to go out there and not even think about it and get a little more extension on the fastball and all the other pitches with that strong shoulder.”
Kelly currently is enjoying a 10-game winning streak, dating back to last season. It is the 16th time in Red Sox history that a pitcher has a 10-game winning streak, and Kelly’s streak is the longest since 2013 when Clay Buchholz won 11 straight. Over his last eight starts at Fenway, Kelly is 7-0 with a 2.41 ERA. Toronto’s Rogers Centre has been far less accommodating for Kelly, however. Kelly has started three games at Rogers Centre in his career and in those starts he is 0-1 with a whopping 9.20 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP. Kelly has faced the Blue Jays six times in his career, going 1-1 with 6.96 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. The 27-year-old right-hander faced Toronto in his first start of the 2016 season. Kelly didn’t begin the year the way he wanted, as he gave up seven runs, one home run and three walks with four strikeouts in just three innings.
Something to keep an eye on is who will be catching for Kelly. Ryan Hanigan is supposed to get the start, but it is unclear if he is fully healthy after leaving Wednesday’s game with an illness. If Hanigan is unable able to go, Blake Swihart could get the start behind the plate. Swihart came up through the Red Sox system as a catcher, but has been playing left field for the Sox since his call-up from Pawtucket last week.
Sanchez will make Friday’s start with some extra rest. The Blue Jays starter was pushed back a day in order to try to preserve him over the course of the season. The 23-year-old has never thrown over 130 innings, and if he is kept on his current pace he would hit 130 innings by July.
Sanchez began 2015 in the starting rotation before he missed seven weeks with a lat strain. After the injury Sanchez, who was the 34th pick in the 2010 draft, finished the year as a full-time reliever. Sanchez was returned to the starting rotation at the beginning of this season. So far in 2016 Sanchez is 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. His last start was a 9-3 victory over the Twins in which he pitched seven innings and gave up eight hits but just two runs and no walks while striking out seven.
Sanchez has appeared in 11 games (three starts) against the Red Sox in his three years in the majors. In those outings he is 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. His last outing against the Sox came in April when he went seven innings and allowed no runs on six hits and two walks while recording six strikeouts in Toronto’s 5-3 win.
Red Sox vs. Sanchez (RHP)
Xander Bogaerts (13 plate appearances): .077 AVG./.077 OBP/.077 SLG, 2 strikeouts
David Ortiz (11): .500/.636/.625, 1 double, 1 RBI, 3 walks
Dustin Pedroia (11): .250/.455/.250, 3 walks, 1 strikeout
Mookie Betts (10): .333/.400/.444, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Travis Shaw is 0-for-7 with 2 strikeouts and 2 walks.
Hanley Ramirez is 0-for-6 with 3 strikeouts.
Chris Young is 2-for-5 with 1 double and 2 strikeouts.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is 3-for-3.
Marco Hernandez is 1-for-2 with 1 walk.
Blake Swihart is 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts.
Christian Vazquez is 0-for-1.
Blue Jays vs. Kelly (RHP)
Russell Martin (21 plate appearances): .294 AVG./.381 OBP/.529 SLG, 1 double, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Josh Donaldson (19): .529/.579/.706, 1 hHR, 6 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Jose Bautista (17): .154/.353/.385, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
Edwin Encarnacion (17): .364/.529/.727, 1 double, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts
Kevin Pillar (14): .273/.429/.455, 1 triple, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Darwin Barney (9): .500/.556/.500, 2 RBIs, 1 walk
Ryan Goins (9): .222/.222/.333, 1 double, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Michael Saunders (8): .143/.250/.143, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Troy Tulowitzki is 0-for-6 with 2 walks.
Devon Travis is 2-for-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout and 1 walk.
Justin Smoak is 2-for-3 with 1 triple and 1 RBI.
Jimmy Paredes is 0-for-2 with 1 strikeout.