Kelly crushed in 6-2 Boston Red Sox loss

Mar 29, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly (56) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly (56) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Twins went long ball against the Boston Red Sox and Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly was roughed up for eight hits including three home runs as the Boston Red Sox lost to the Minnesota Twins 6-2 at Hammond Field in Fort Myers. Kelly lasted four innings in his last start before the regular season and had little support from a Red Sox offense that was limited to five hits in a rain-shortened game.

Home Runitis Hits Kelly

The Rick Porcello pitching disease – a type of home run Ebola – infected Kelly in the first inning when Brian Dozier led off the game with a homer. Reminiscent of how the Porcello debacle started yesterday. With one out the Twins Miguel Sano – an impressive power potential – hit another one out for a 2-0 Twins lead after one. Kelly has a career HR/9 of 0.84 and last season it was 1.00 – both are reasonably low, but today was to be brutally disappointing after such an impressive spring.

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The Red Sox made some noise in the second with a Hanley Ramirez walk and a one-out single by Pablo Sandoval off Twins starter Tommy Milone (9-5, 3.92 in 2015). With one out the lefty then finished off Rusney Castillo on a fly ball and Blake Swihart on a whiff. Kelly recovered nicely in the home half of the second frame with two strikeouts.

Red Sox Get On The Board

The third inning saw a pair of one-out singles – the first by Mookie Betts and the second by Brock Holt. Chris Young has shown value this spring and did what a professional is suppose to do in RISP and less than two outs and that is to get a run in and this one on a sac fly. Ramirez then singled in Holt and stole second with Travis Shaw up. Shaw – who has been relatively quiet of late – hit a routine grounder to first and the top of the third was over and tied at 2-2.

Kelly matched Porcello of yesterday in the last of the fourth. With one out Kurt Suzuki hit the third home run of the game for the Twins and, thankfully, all were solo shots. For Suzuki, it was his fourth home run of the spring and gave the Twins a 3-2 edge, but the Twins got greedy. Dozier singled and Joe Mauer walked bringing up Sano who kept it in the yard for a run-producing single. Trevor Plouffe grounded out to shortstop Holt to end the inning.

Exit Kelly

Anthony Varvaro replaced Kelly after four innings and escaped the last of the fifth without damage despite a hit and a balk. Varvaro was followed to the mound by Craig Kimbrel who gave up a single to Byron Buxton. Buxton is a number two ranked MLB prospect who has had a disappointing spring with no home runs and three RBI. Just maybe a hit off Kimbrel will jump start his season? Buxton worked his way to second and with two outs and Sano punched a single for the first run allowed by Kimbrel this spring. With two on and two out Kimbrel provided his speciality with a called third strike on Eddie Rosario.

Final Three (Maybe)

The final three innings of a spring training game do not elicit much excitement despite the influx of a few more regular players and less reliance on selected minor leaguers. Milone (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) departed with a far more impressive performance than Kelly. Boston contributed another zero on the board for the top of the seventh and Junichi Tazawa came in to tune up for the season in the last of the inning.

Tazawa walked the first batter and that usually has a tragic result and today was no different as Junichi issued walks to both Darin Mastroianni and Heiker Meneses. Mastroianni is a 30-year-old veteran with a handful of MLB games and Meneses has eight seasons of minor league ball. Mastroianni came in on a deflected ground out for the sixth Twins run and then the rains came.  Game called and no further ERA damage for Tazawa.

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Game Notes

* the Red Sox are 1-4 versus the Twins and that means no Mayor’s Cup.

* David Murphy refused a minor league assignment and is a FA.

* Placing Christian Vazquez on the DL preserves an option.

* David Price – opening day starter – gets the start tomorrow.

* Clay Buchholz goes to the mound Thursday.

* Game time temperature was 81 degrees. In Boston, it was 51 degrees.

F. . Game Ball. Joe Kelly. STARTING PITCHING

Kelly (4 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) was shaky all afternoon. In the third with two on and one out Kelly closed out the next two hitters to keep it a clean inning. The rest of the day was disappointing and was a sorry way to close out an impressive spring. Three home runs in four innings is unacceptable.

RELIEF PITCHING . D-. . Game Ball. Anthony Varvaro

Varvaro (IP, H, K) lower his spring ERA to 6.43. Kimbrel (IP, 3 H, ER, K) was not the Kimbrel we usually see. Tazawa (0.1 IP, ER, 2 BB) walked his first two batters and one scored before the rain saved further damage.

D-. . Game Ball. Hanley Ramirez. OFFENSE

Five hits. Why be concerned about LOB (4) or RISP (1-4) when you get only a smattering of hits? Ramirez was “The Big Gun” with two hits and an RBI.