The long ball really hurt the Red Sox on Wednesday night as the Houston Astros got the victory for the second game in a row to continue Boston’s downward spiral. John Farrell and company have now lost all six games since the All-Star break (something that apparently has taken the skipper by surprise according to his interview on WEEI’s Dale and Holley earlier in the day), seven in a row and eight of their last nine games. With the double-header on Monday, Boston had a need for an additional pitcher at some point this week, and Farrell elected to go with Joe Kelly Wednesday in Houston.
Kelly’s last start was roughly a month ago on June 23 against the Orioles, and after a four start stint in Pawtucket that saw him go 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA, the Red Sox apparently had seen enough to give him another shot. Although, according to ESPN’s Gordon Edes, John Farrell didn’t exactly seem too impressed about what Kelly had shown for the PawSox — “Similar stuff –the power’s there. Last time out, it was almost a tale of two performances inside of one game. He was dominant first couple of innings, then some foul balls, high pitch counts after that. But there’s more of an effort to throw the ball inside to right-handed hitters and use both sides of the plate.” I guess at this point, anything is worth a shot.
Unfortunately, Kelly went right back to where he left off. In the first inning, LF Preston Tucker clocked a solo homerun to centerfield. Kelly did go on to record two strikeouts to end that inning. After a shaky second inning that saw a single, a walk and a wild pitch, Kelly was able to get away unscathed and had a relatively easy third inning. DH Evan Gattis made him pay in the fourth when he smashed a solo homer of his own to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.
Kelly was able to earn two strikeouts to start the fifth, but after giving up a single to 2B Jose Altuve, Tucker made him pay again with a two-run homerun. After giving up another single, Kelly finished off the inning with a strikeout, but the damage had been done, especially for an unconfident team that has been brutally struggling to get any offense going. After getting one out in the sixth, Kelly’s night was over – 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 3 HR and a loss to drop to 2-6.
The Red Sox offense was right back to where they’ve been for the last seven games – nowhere to be found. They were held hitless by Houston starter Collin McHugh through four innings. Hanley Ramirez recorded their first hit to lead off the fifth inning. After Alejandro De Aza was hit by a pitch, public enemy number one Mike Napoli continued to dig himself deeper in the hole by ending the rally, hitting into a double play.
The Red Sox managed to offer a glimpse of hope in the sixth with Blake Swihart leading off the inning with a single, and Dustin Pedroia driving him home with a double to deep right. After Brock Holt (who was playing third with Pablo Sandoval getting a scheduled night off) singled, Xander Bogaerts singled to drive in Pedroia. With the score now 4-2, and David Ortiz at the plate, the Sox had a chance to really come back and change the whole course of the game. Any hope was blown to smithereens when Ortiz popped out in the infield, Ramirez struck out and De Aza flied out. The Red Sox would threaten again in the seventh with Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli – yes, that Mike Napoli – leading off with a single each, but again, they would falter and get nothing out of the inning. Boston would go on to do nothing of note in the eight and ninth to fall victim yet again to the Astros.
The Red Sox will look to salvage a game in the series when they meet the Astros in Houston for the third and final matchup Thursday night. Wade Miley (8-8, 4.49) will take the mound against 21 year-old righty Lance McCullers (4-3, 2.52). First pitch is scheduled for 8:10pm ET.
* John Farrell could have chosen to go with Wade Miley on Wednesday, Rick Porcello Thursday night on regular rest and waited to turn to Kelly on Friday night against the Tigers, but he elected to use Kelly in Houston. Looking back, it may have made more sense to go with the better pitcher to try to get a W and stop the bleeding.
* Ortiz and De Aza were the only Red Sox batters to not record a hit. Every other batter had one hit. Ortiz went 0-3 with a walk and is now hitting .231.
* Robbie Ross Jr pitched 0.2 innings giving up a hit and grabbing a strikeout. Alexi Ogando pitched one scoreless inning allowing a hit, and Tommy Layne finished things off pitching a scoreless inning with a strikeout.
* Luke Gregerson picked up his 20th save of the season finishing off Boston 1-2-3 in the ninth.
* STOP THE PRESSES!! Mike Napoli actually got a base hit going 1-4 on the night to inch closer to hitting that benchmark average of .200 (he’s hitting .198).
Kelly got the call for the fist time in nearly a month, but much like his time in Boston so far, his performance was underwhelming. He is inconsistent and still struggles to locate his fastball deep in counts and with men on base. While he did record some big strikeouts, mistake pitches led to three huge homeruns for the Astros which is their bread and butter. I’m not sure if Kelly will get another opportunity before a decision is made on him, but thatJohn Lackey
deal is looking worse and worse by the day.
Layne pitched a scoreless inning in the eighth with a strikeout and no hits allowed to keep the Red Sox alive at the time.
On yet another night where the offense couldn’t get much done, Boston’s best hitter of the season so far went 1-4 and was able to get one of their two RBI. Bogaerts is the only batter in the lineup with an average over .300 now hitting .311.
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