Joe Kelly allowed five runs over 3 1/3 innings taking a no-decision in the Red Sox‘ loss Monday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Joe Kelly’s reentry into the Red Sox rotation has been met with unrelenting difficulties. After a month at Triple-A Pawtucket, Kelly’s major league troubles have persisted, and Monday’s game against the White Sox saw that trend continue.
The right-hander lasted just 3 1/3 innings in a 10-8 loss to the White Sox, allowing seven hits and five runs (four of them earned). He struck out two and did not walk a batter.
“Rough outing,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of his starter’s performance. “A lot of elevated pitches in the strike zone. There were strikes, but the command within the strike zone was lacking. A lot of hard contact early.”
Kelly’s struggles started just as soon as the game did; he allowed a leadoff triple to Adam Eaton on his second pitch of the day. The very next pitch was another triple, this off the bat off Tyler Saladino. Two pitches after that, Melky Cabrera doubled to left and the White Sox quickly staked a 2-0 lead.
Kelly noted the aggressiveness of the White Sox hitters in pouncing on pitches to hit early in the count.
“Those guys came out swinging the bat right away, obviously that was their gameplan, so I tried to make adjustments from there,” Kelly said.
Catcher Ryan Hanigan also talked about the success of the White Sox’ aggressive strategy at the plate.
“They didn’t let him breath. They smelt it. They were aggressive,” Hanigan said. “They were getting pitches they could barrel. … They came out aggressive and sometimes that can pay off for a team and sometimes they can roll over three times and we have a six pitch inning. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
The three extra-base hits were the start of a four-run first in which eight White Sox hitters came to the plate. Kelly improved after his first time through the lineup, getting through a scoreless second before allowing a run on a Jose Abreu RBI single in the third. At that point, the Red Sox had scored four times and pulled even before falling behind again 5-4.
In the fourth, after Kelly recorded an out and allowed a single to the No. 9 hitter Carlos Sanchez, Farrell had seen enough.
“We come right back after a couple of innings and tie things up,” Farrell said. “We’re going through the third time and it was time to make a move to the bullpen. Bottom line in this game, we couldn’t put up enough zeros.”
Hanigan said that the White Sox were able to capitalize on Kelly’s mistakes.
“He was missing some spots there, we made some mistakes and they didn’t miss them,” Hanigan said. “Just a tough one for Joe, [we have to] keep working, keep trying to get him on track. They can swing it, they got some balls to hit and they didn’t miss them.”
Kelly was bailed out at least in part by the Red Sox offense, who touched White Sox starter John Danks for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Thanks to those efforts, Kelly’s uninspiring performance resulted in a no-decision, rather than his seventh loss of the season.
The outing bumped Kelly’s ERA to 5.94 on the season, which is the second-worst in the American League among starters with at least 80 innings pitched. Only Detroit’s Shane Greene (Sunday night’s starter at Fenway) is worse, owning a 6.72 ERA. Farrell said that, for the moment, Kelly’s spot in the rotation is safe and he will make his next scheduled start.
“That’s to be determined,” Farrell said on the status of Kelly’s next start. “Right now yes, but unless something changes that I am unaware of right now, I’m sure it will be up for discussion.”