Coming off a series win at home against the Angels, the Red Sox start a weeklong road trip with a three-game set against the Twins on Monday. The Sox finally got a much-needed jolt from their offense in the final two games of the Angels series, and will look to continue the trend in Minnesota as they send Joe Kelly to the hill to go up against Ricky Nolasco.
Kelly enters his ninth start of the season with a 1-3 record and 5.13 ERA. The right-hander has had some tough-luck losses, and has pitched better, especially lately, than his record and ERA indicate. His FIP (a fielding-independent stat measured on the same scale as ERA) is a more reasonable 4.23.
Kelly, 26, has not recorded a win since his first outing of the season April 11, but his last two starts were good enough to merit victories had he gotten more help from his offense.
Kelly went seven strong innings in his last start and allowed just two runs on seven hits while striking out seven. However, he got just one run of support and took the 2-1 loss at the hands of the Rangers.
“After the third inning, he settled in. He used his curveball a little bit more,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said following Kelly’s outing Wednesday. “He started to elevate his fastball for some strikeouts. And on a night when he wasn’t completely healthy in terms of an illness he was dealing with, he threw the ball exceptionally well. He takes the one-hopper off the hand that really, after the initial sting went away, didn’t affect the way he threw the baseball. He got a couple of big strikeouts with men in scoring position. A well-pitched game.”
In his last two starts combined, Kelly has allowed just three runs in 13 1/3 innings and yet has ended up winless, recording a no-decision to go along with his loss to the Rangers.
Nolasco gets the call opposite Kelly, coming into Monday’s contest with an impressive 4-1 record to go along with a less-impressive 6.00 ERA. The 32-year-old right-hander has made only five starts this season as a result of an almost month-long stint on the disabled list.
Nolasco has won each of his four starts since returning from the DL on May 2. In his last appearance, Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Nolasco threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three of them earned. He conceded 10 hits while striking out eight in an 8-5 Twins victory.
“I felt good getting back to that feeling where I can strike guys out when I want to,” Nolasco said following Tuesday’s win. “It’s nice getting all those runs with us having good at-bats. All I was trying to do was get us back to the dugout as quick as possible.”
In the four starts since his return, Nolasco has a more reasonable 4.29 ERA, while throwing 21 combined innings and giving up 10 earned runs.
Red Sox vs. Nolasco (RHP)
Shane Victorino (46 plate appearances): .163 AVG/.200 OBP/.256 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 10 strikeouts
Pablo Sandoval (23): .476/.522/1.095, 3 home runs, 4 doubles, 7 RBIs
David Ortiz (13): .400/.462/1.300, 3 home runs, 5 RBIs
Dustin Pedroia (11): .182/.182/.182, 1 strikeout
Daniel Nava (6): .400/.500/.400
Mike Napoli is 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Nolasco.
Hanley Ramirez is 1-for-3 against Nolasco.
Xander Bogaerts is 1-for-2 with a triple against Nolasco.
Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Brock Holt, Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart have not faced Nolasco.
Twins vs. Kelly (RHP)
Shane Robinson is 0-for-1 against Kelly.
Kurt Suzuki is 0-for-1 in his career against Kelly.
No other Twins have faced Kelly.