Joe Kelly

Closing Time: Joe Kelly, bullpen let one slip away for Red Sox

Rob Bradford
April 22, 2015 - 6:20 pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The ability to go deep into games continues to elude the Red Sox' starters, and it caught up with them once again Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. Joe Kelly let a four-run lead slip away thanks to the Rays' four-run sixth inning. And when Tampa Bay added two more off reliever Edward Mujica the following frame, the Red Sox found themselves with one of their most frustrating losses of the young season, a 7-5 defeat at the hands of Kevin Cash's club. The Red Sox have now allowed 15 sixth-inning runs, the most in the major leagues. Their starters have now gone eight games without going more than six innings, having gone six just once during that stretch. The Sox bullpen has pitched 30 2/3 innings in that eight-game period, this time failing to save the day. First, Craig Breslow came on for Kelly with the bases-loaded and nobody out in the sixth and surrendered a two-run single to Brandon Guyer to tie the game. Then Mujica let the Rays jump ahead for good in the seventh thanks to a run-scoring double play grounder and Jake Elmore's solo home run. Elmore's blast marked the 11th time a Rays player has hit a homer in his first at-bat with the organization. (For a complete box score, click here.) SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Rays relievers Brad Boxberger, Kevin Jepsen and Steve Geltz. The trio combined to follow up Tampa Bay starter Nate Karns' five-inning, five-run outing with three scoreless frames in which they combined to hold the Red Sox to one hit. Here's what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox' loss: WHAT WENT WRONG - It wasn't as if the Rays were hitting it all over the ballpark against Kelly in the fifth. The Red Sox starter -- who had surrendered a solo shot to Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning -- was victimized by four straight singles and a walk before giving way to Breslow. He finished his outing allowing five runs on eight hits over five innings, striking out seven and walking one. Kelly threw 14 pitches without getting an out in the sixth after averaging 13.6 pitches in the first five frames. "Didn't get ahead of the hitters," Kelly said. "I fell behind with my fastball, which was pretty good for me tonight. That sixth inning, tried to get too fine with it and fell behind hitters, and kind of threw it down the middle from then and they put some good swings on balls and got some good hits. ... Just got a little wild. Just missed with some pitches around the zone, and, like I said, I had to come back and throw a strike and not walk somebody, and threw it down the middle." - Mujica has not come through in some key spots for the Red Sox this season. After blowing a save in New York (ultimately resulting in the Sox' 19-inning win), the righty succumbed to the Rays' two-run seventh this time. "Everybody is looking for that pitch because that'€™s my secondary pitch after my fastball," said Mujica of his split, which Elmore hit over the left-center field fence. "They'€™re just sitting for that pitch. I don'€™t think I made bad pitches, I threw outside the strike zone and they hit it well." - Shane Victorino was forced from the game in the fifth inning with a tight right hamstring. The outfielder walked off the field gingerly in the fourth after stealing second, but returned to his position for a half-inning before being pinch-hit for in the fifth by Allen Craig. "He's got some right hamstring tightness on the stolen base. Given what he's gone through, I got him off his feet," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, adding, "It's not more serious, it's day to day. He was scheduled for a down day [Thursday] so it's likely he'll be out and available but not in the lineup tomorrow." - Xander Bogaerts returned to the starting lineup, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. - The Red Sox are 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position through the series' first two games. WHAT WENT RIGHT - Both David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia went deep. For Ortiz it was his third, while Pedroia now has four on the season. For the DH, the home run was his 469th, passing Chipper Jones for 32nd on the all-time list. He also passed Joe DiMaggio with his 1,538th RBI, good for 46th all-time. - Hanley Ramirez managed to execute on the basepaths again, this time scoring all the way from first on Mike Napoli's single into center field. Ramirez was stealing on the play, having already swiped his first bag Tuesday night. - Napoli capped off his game by executing a nifty 5-3-5 double play in the eighth inning with third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval initiated the play by fielding a short-hop grounder off the bat Rene Rivera. Napoli scooped up the short-hop throw from third and then fired back to Sandoval, who tagged Guyer just before the baserunner reached the bag. (The call was upheld after a 2-minute, 9-second review.)