The Red Sox will play the second game of their series with the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, sending out Joe Kelly to face Masahiro Tanaka.
After not winning a single game with the Red Sox in the month of August, Kelly (5-4, 4.15 ERA) has won three of his four starts in September. He struck out five and allowed two runs in his latest victory against the Orioles last Sunday. Both runs came against him in a tough sixth inning, but Kelly recovered to pitch into the seventh inning.
Manager John Farrell said after the game that the right-hander’s perseverance during the sixth frame has been emblematic of Kelly’s latest starts.
“There’s been times in recent starts here where there’s a moment inside the game where there’s a real competitiveness that comes out of him,” Farrell said. “The last out he recorded in Kansas City against [Omar] Infante; today after it looked like we turned a double play and we don’t get it, he settles right back in to get the next hitter out. He’s able to rise to the moment and execute quality pitches.”
One of Kelly’s wins in this recent stretch came against the Yankees in the Bronx. He threw 6 2/3 innings and allowed five hits and three runs. Martin Prado’s solo home run was one of the few mistakes Kelly made in an otherwise good outing. Prado is the only Yankees hitter with an extra-base hit against Kelly.
Tanaka (13-4, 2.47 ERA) dominated the American League in the early stages of this season this year after a successful career in Japan. But in early July, Tanaka suffered an elbow injuring, making many believe he would need Tommy John Surgery. The right-hander opted for a rehab assignment, which has allowed him to pitch at the end of September.
He made his return last Sunday against the Blue Jays, allowing one hit and one run in 5 1/3 innings — his shortest start this season. Overall, though, Tanaka said he was happy with the way things went after a 10-week stint on the disabled list.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been back out there, but overall I’m pretty satisfied with how I pitched today,” Tanaka said with the help of an interpreter. “I felt like I was able to do all the things I wanted to do on the mound.”
Tanaka is 1-1 against the Red Sox. At Fenway Park in late April, he struck out seven and gave up two runs in a victory. At Yankee Stadium in June, the right-hander suffered a rare complete-game loss. He pitched into the ninth of a tie game and then served up a home run to Mike Napoli.
“The fact that I gave up a home run — it was the worst thing that I could have possibly done,” Tanaka said through his interpreter.
Napoli, in a small sample size, has hit Tanaka well. The first baseman is 3-for-6 with two home runs and two RBIs in seven plate appearances.
Yankees vs. Kelly (RHP)
Brian McCann (9 career plate appearances): .333 average/.333 OBP/.333 SLG
Carlos Beltran (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Francisco Cervelli (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 RBI
Stephen Drew (3): .333/.333/1.000, 1 triple, 1 strikeout
Jacoby Ellsbury (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Brett Gardner (3): .000/.000/.000, 3 strikeouts
Chase Headley (3): .000/.667/.000, 2 walks
Derek Jeter (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI
Mark Teixeira (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Red Sox vs. Tanaka (RHP)
Brock Holt (7): .286/.286/.429, 1 double
Mike Napoli (7): .500/.571/.1.667, 2 home runs, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1 double
David Ortiz (7): .286/.286/.857, 1 double, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Xander Bogaerts (6): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts
Jackie Bradley (6): .167/.167/.167
Daniel Nava (4): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Yoenis Cespedes (3): .333/.333/.333
David Ross (3): .333/.333/1.333, 1 home run, 1 RBI