Kelly, bullpen impress in Boston Red Sox 4-1 win

Mar 19, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly (56) throws a pitch in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly (56) throws a pitch in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

Joe Kelly and the bullpen shut down the Mets for a 4-1 win.

Joe Kelly continued to impress with seven strong innings allowing a lone run in a Boston Red Sox 4-1 victory over the New York Mets at Jet Blue Park. The Red Sox backed up Kelly by breaking through two runs sixth and the eighth innings and turning it over to Craig Kimbrel and Roenis Elias for the door shutting ceremonies.

The Red Sox suddenly have a thinner squad. No – a certain third baseman has not shed pounds, but the team has sent six players back to the kids table. Look at the game notes to wish the departed well in their new homes.

Three Innings Of Zeros

For the first three innings, Kelly was making it look easy against a depleted Mets team that was playing a split-squad game. Kelly didn’t issue a hit and fanned four with a lone walk as he toyed with the Mets. Kelly came into the contest leading the Red Sox in spring training ERA (1.38) and that was dropping like the New Year’s ball in Times Square.

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The Mets had 25-year-old right-hander Logan Verrett matching Kelly in the zeros department with his own three impressive innings, allowing a lone hit by Dustin Pedroia while fanning one.

The quick moving contest – under one hour for four innings – had a Red Sox highlight in the last of the fourth with the second hit of the afternoon with the culprit being Xander Bogaerts with a single. David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez both made outs to keep XB firmly planted on first.

Mets Break Through

The top of the fifth the Mets started off with a single by Eric Campbell who then stole second. With two outs and Campbell latched to third, Matt Reynolds hit an infield single to short for the run. Patrick Biondi singled to continue the uprising and Kelly responded by striking out Juan Lagares to avoid further damage. Mets grabbed the lead at the half way mark.

The Red Sox responded in the last of the fifth against new Mets pitcher Sean Gilmartin by going meekly 1-2-3.

Red Sox Bounce Back

The last of the sixth saw the bats come out of their collective stupor. Jackie Bradley and Mookie Betts both singled for a first and third situation. A Bogaerts sac fly brought in JBJ and Mookie swiped second with Ortiz up. Mookie’s respite at second was quick as Ortiz banged out a single to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead after six.

When will they ever learn? With one out in the top of the seventh Kevin Plawecki singled to center and tested the Bradley arm and thus enjoy a nice saunter back to the dugout after being cut down at second. Travis Taijeron followed with a double and if Plawecki had decided to stay at first it could have been a tied game. That was the last frame for Kelly who hit the exit with another impressive performance turning over the game to the bullpen.

Kimbrel – who has not allowed a run this spring – came in for the eighth and it was mercifully quick for the Mets that had to attempt to touch Kimbrel. Three up and three quickly down dragging their bats behind them. So far Kimbrel is the real deal and then some.

The Red Sox needed some insurance and that was provided with a Bogaerts home run in the last of the eighth. But the Red Sox were Gordon Gecko mode with “Greed is good” and picked up another run. Blake Swihart singled and stole second. Deven Marrero – still on the big club – singled to bring in Swihart and a 4-1 lead.

Roenis Elias came in for the ninth and a save situation. No problem.

Next: Red Sox Pablo Sandoval out with back tightness

Game Notes:

* Assigned to Pawtucket were pitchers Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson and Henry Owens.

* Assigned to minor league camp were Sam Travis, Roman Mendez and Ryan LaMarre.

* Travis was hitting .536 and leading the Red Sox in RBI (13) for the spring.

* Owens was leading the staff in strikeouts (14) for the spring.

* The Mets were playing with a split squad

* Pablo Sandoval is out a few games with a minor back issue.

* Game time temperature was 80 degrees. Boston was 40 degrees.

A-. . Game Ball. Joe Kelly. STARTING PITCHING

Kelly continued his impressive spring with seven innings of one run pitching. The only blemish was the fifth inning where the Mets bunched together three hits for the lone run. A JBJ outfield assist in the seventh may have prevented another run. Kelly issued a single walk and struck out six. Kelly lowered his ERA to a miniscule 1.35.

Game Ball. Roenis Elias. RELIEF PITCHING . A+.

Kimbrel three strikeouts on three batters faced. Elias the save and two strikeouts.

B-. . Game Ball. Xander Bogaerts. OFFENSE

Bogaerts had two hits, two RBI and a home run. Ortiz an RBI. Marrero the remaining RBI. RISP 2-5 and six LOB.