A huge game from Travis Shaw overcame another poor performance from Joe Kelly Saturday afternoon, powering the Red Sox to an 11-7 win over the Rays.
So yes, the Red Sox won a Joe Kelly start, but it was no doubt in spite of the man on the mound. This was quintessential Kelly, perhaps more so than any other start this season. No, it wasn't a complete disaster from the onset in the way his four-run first inning game way. In fact, Kelly looked good at first. He was making it work largely without his fastball, and after John Jaso led off the game with a single, he retired the next nine he faced--Jaso included, obviously--to get into the fourth with no runs on the board.
The problem is that, even when Joe Kelly is feeling it (read: not having an utter disaster where he comes out with nothing and leaves in the second), he still can't make it multiple times through the order. The pitches that fooled the Rays the first time through became familiar and beatable. Steven Souza singled, and the conga line began. A walk to Evan Longoria, and hits from James Loney and Logan Forsythe quickly made it 2-0.
Kelly would manage to miraculously escape the inning without allowing any further damage, but that didn't stop him from a repeat performance in the fifth. Three more singles and a hit batsman--Kelly apparently decided that was quicker than the walk--brought two more home. He would unfathomably return for the sixth, allowing a double, a single, and a fifth run before finally being removed from the game once and for all, with Justin Masterson allowing a two-out double to make it officially six runs against Kelly on the day.
So that's the bad news. That and the fact that we'll probably have to put up with it again in a week since the team apparently can't stop putting him on the mound. The good news is that the Red Sox actually scored enough to make up for Kelly's awfulness!
It helps that Matt Moore was on the mound. Once one of the best young prospects in baseball, Moore now seems to inhabit the same space as Justin Masterson, as a fundamentally, perhaps physically broken pitcher. It was open season for the Red Sox, who converted a pair of leadoff singles into a run in the first with fly balls, then piled on four in the second as Travis Shaw, Rusney Castillo, Ryan Hanigan, and Jackie Bradley Jr. went double - double - single - walk, with Xander Bogaerts providing the decisive swing to knock in Hanigan and Bradley with a double that nearly found its way into the bullpen.
Moore was finally lifted before the fourth, having allowed another run on the first major league homer of Travis Shaw's career. The bullpen stabilized, but gave up a seventh run in the fifth, when Shaw scored his second run of the day on Xander Bogaerts' second double of the day, and two more in the sixth when Rusney Castillo drove in both Ortiz and, once more, Travis Shaw.
The Rays would not score again until the ninth, with Logan Forsythe homering off Jean Machi making an unimpressive debut, but by that point Shaw had already put the exclamation mark on a huge day by going deep for a second time to make it an eleven-run day for Boston.
Joe Kelly started, and the Red Sox won. Travis Shaw works miracles, it turns out! Maybe this, finally, is the start that breaks the camel's back and leaves Kelly in the bullpen. We can only hope that the decisive disaster comes in a game that proved overall so positive.