Boston Red Sox starter Joe Kelly and reliever Koji Uehara seemed to break down, much like Clay Buchholz, in the loss against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Last night’s game at the Rogers Centre could have been a statement game for the Red Sox, putting their stamp on owning the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles had been spinning out of the division race, being two games back of Boston. The Blue Jays were a full six games back. Instead, it was Kelly who put his stamp on one of his worst outings:
Buchholz, after another brutal start, was recently moved to the bullpen, according to MLB.com‘s Ian Browne. “Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez will be activated on Tuesday in Baltimore and take over for Buchholz in the rotation.” And, apparently, the team is going to need him to pick up wins fast, as Kelly was no better.
He might have only allowed two runs in the fourth inning, but Kelly looked like he was trying to find a hole to hide in as the Blue Jays made it agonizing for him. A walk, a flyout, a single, a free pass by hitting Ezequiel Cabrera, a coach’s visit to the mound, another single, a sacrifice fly, and another walk felt more like getting hit in the face repeatedly, before striking out Troy Tulowitzki ended the beating. Considering Tulo is only hitting .204, the strikeout was barely a noteworthy moment compared to the onslaught that Kelly received from the rest of the Blue Jays lineup not named Jose Bautista, who was serving a one-game suspension.
That’s right: the face of the Blue Jays franchise wasn’t in the lineup and this beating still took place. The ‘Bringer of Rain’ Josh Donaldson already smacked Kelly around in the first inning with a solo home run, and part-time bat Justin Smoak did the same in the fifth inning. The runs combined for a 5-2 lead for Toronto.
The Red Sox tried to mount a comeback with RBI-singles from Christian Vazquez and Travis Shaw, but then Uehara wanted to see if he could do the same impression as Kelly did. Koji threw an 86-mph four-seamer that had no business being that high in the strikezone over the plate, begging for Donaldson to absolutely crush for his second homer of the game, a two-run blast to win the game 7-5.
Kelly went just 4.2 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts. His ERA ballooned to 6.30, as he never looked comfortable hitting his spots around the strikezone. Kelly’s pitches looked more like they were dancing around the strikezone, obvious to anyone at the dish that either the pitches would be straight down the pipe or nowhere near being called a strike. Out of 94 pitches, 54 were for strikes, and they were either straight as an arrow or flopping into the dirt.
Neither Kelly or Uehara looked dominant on the mound. If anything, Uehara looked defeated and Kelly looked afraid to throw another pitch, his eyes roaming around the diamond as if he wanted to see a teammate or a coach coming towards him to give him guidance or a prayer of some kind. There seemed to be a great deal of desperation in his eyes, peering over his shoulder as if to say please give me the hook, but with no response until it was too late.
The Red Sox have two more games to play against the Blue Jays to make up for the debacle of defeated looks. For a team winning the division, Buchholz and Kelly have not brought a great deal of confidence to the mound or to Red Sox Nation. If anything, their fear is starting to look contagious, when remembering Uehara’s slip. Boston will want to rectify that with the cure of winning, especially since they open up a series with the second-place Orioles in a few days. The Red Sox don’t have time to be scared right now; they have to have a swagger, a strut if you will, that they’ve had for most of this season if they want to keep a hold of first place in the A.L. East.