If Joe Kelly is pitching for his spot in the starting rotation, he’s not going down without a fight. The 26-year old has been struggling through the most difficult season of his young career and has to know his role could be in jeopardy with manager John Farrell announcing the team intends to move back to a 5-man rotation starting next week. Someone will end up being the odd man out, but a strong start from Kelly stated his case for staying in the rotation as he led the Boston Red Sox to a win over the Oakland Athletics.
Hanley Ramirez sent a ball on to the tarp in straight away center field to put the Red Sox up 2-0 in the first inning. It was Ramirez’s 13th home run of the season and only his 3rd since the end of April.
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Both teams had their issues handling balls that ricocheted off of the Green Monster in the third inning. Billy Burns got Oakland on the board with an RBI triple that bounced off the wall and by Mookie Betts in left-center field. By the time Ramirez backed him up to get to the ball it was too late to keep Burns from advancing to third.
In the bottom of the inning, Ortiz ripped a double that Ben Zobrist was unable to play off the wall, giving Ramirez time to score from first. Mike Napoli followed that with a base hit just out of the reach of shortstop Marcus Semien to knock in Ortiz, who was aggressively hustling around third base. The throw to the plate looked like it would be in time, but it was a bit off the mark and catcher Stephen Vogt was unable to hang on to make the tag.
Mark Canha chipped away at the lead with a solo homer off of Alexi Ogando in the 7th to make it 4-2, but the A’s would fail to score again. Oakland made things interesting by putting the tying run on base against the Red Sox bullpen in the 8th, but Matt Barnes came in to strike out Semien to end the threat.
The Red Sox were unable to add an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th after putting two runners on base, but it wasn’t needed anyway. Koji Uehara retired the side in order in the 9th to lock down his 13th save of the season.
Boston has taken the first two games against Oakland to clinch the series, improving to 4-2 in June.
- A’s starter Jesse Chavez entered the game 4th in the AL with a 2.11 ERA, yet now holds a 2-6 record after taking the loss today. Despite how well he has pitched this season, Chavez has received the league’s worst run support with 2.0 runs per game entering the day.
- Betts swiped his team-leading 9th steal of the season, which is more than double anyone else on the team.
- Ramirez was caught stealing for the third time this season and is now an unimpressive 3-for-6 on steal attempts. Ramirez has stolen at least 10 bases in every season of his career with a 75 percent success rate.
- Junichi Tazawa turned 29 years old today, but was unavailable out of the bullpen after appearing in each of the last 3 games.
With his spot in the rotation in jeopardy, Kelly came through with a solid start to earn his second win of the season. Kelly went 6 innings, allowing only 4 hits, 1 earned run, a pair of walks and he struck out 6. He threw 60 percent of his pitches for strikes and was taken out after an even 100 pithces.
Ogando coughed up a run on the homer to Canha in the 7th, but it was the only run the bullpen surrendered in 3 innings of work. Koji Uehara retired the side in order to lock down his 13th save of the season. It’s the first outing since May 16 that Uehara hasn’t allowed a base runner.
Ramirez collected his first three-hit game since May 19, adding his 13th home run of the season along the way. He drove in a pair of runs and also scored twice in his five trips to the plate. On the downside, Ramirez left five men on base, grounding out with the bases loaded in the 6th and with two on in the 8th. By that point he had already contributed plenty of damage to lead the Red Sox to victory.