Joe Kelly will be credited with a win, but be sure to hand plenty of credit to some aggressive base running and a lights-out bullpen.
Wednesday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and handed the Baltimore Orioles their first loss of the 2016 season. The Red Sox are now 4-4, an even .500 record just over a week into the 2016 season.
The 4-2 final didn’t feel secure until closer Craig Kimbrel had completed a 14-pitch ninth inning in which he struck out the side. Monday’s nemesis Chris Davis was the final victim of Kimbrel’s perfect frame.
The Red Sox swiped four bases, with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts each swiping a pair.
It took starting pitcher Joe Kelly 114 pitches to get through five innings. He never had a 1-2-3 frame, but somehow he managed to hold one of the best lineups in the league to only two runs.
Kelly walked five, allowed two earned runs, and gave up seven hits, one of which was an opposite field two-run home run off the bat of Chris Davis. The third inning blast accounted for all of Baltimore’s scoring.
Kelly had to manuever out of trouble in every inning. His departure called for more of an exhale, than a fond farewell, but in the end, the Red Sox got their first win since Saturday’s 8-4 win in Toronto.
Once Kelly left the game, the Red Sox bullpen took matters into their own capable hands.
Matt Barnes, Tommy Layne and Junichi Tazawa worked the sixth and seventh innings. They allowed only one hit and issued no free passes.
Koji Uehara came in for the eighth and even though he allowed a two-out single, he still needed only 13 pitches to retire the side.
That meant that Craig Kimbrel would have his shot at earning his first save in front of the Fenway Faithful. He was more than up for the task.
The Red Sox got their four runs in via two separate two-run outbursts.
Already trailing 2-0 in the third, Mookie Betts led off with a single. He advanced to second on an infield single by Pedroia and a Xander Bogaerts double drove both men home to tie the game at 2-2.
Brock Holt led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk. After Ryan Hanigan struck out, Jackie Bradley Jr. smashed a line drive to deep right field. Holt came around to score as Bradley motored into third with a triple.
Mookie Betts drove Bradley home on an groundout to Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez. The score was 4-2 after four innings, and thanks to the Red Sox bullpen that would be the game’s final score.
Notes: Ian Browne of MLB.com tweeted after the conclusion of the game that the Red Sox had optioned outfielder Rusney Castillo to Triple-A Pawtucket. Ryan Hannable of WEEI speculates that catcher Christian Vasquez could be promoted. There’s also a chance that the Red Sox promote a pitcher to add depth to a bullpen that has gotten more than its fair share of use. Roenis Elias, Heath Hembree, Sean O’Sullivan, Anthony Varvaro and recently signed Wesley Wright all have big league experience out of the bullpen.
Mookie Betts was 2-for-4 with a run scored, an RBI and two steals, his average is now up to .270. Xander Bogaerts was also 2-for-4 and is now batting .265. David Ortiz was quiet, the slugger was 0-for-2 but managed to draw two walks. It was a rough night for Hanley Ramirez, Ramirez was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts dropping his average to .333
The Red Sox get a day off Thursday before hosting the Blue Jays for four games. Friday night’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm Rick Porcello (1-0, 6.00) will start for the Red Sox. Toronto sends R.A. Dickey (1-1, 8.10) to the mound.