Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly battles to keep Red Sox in game, takes no-decision: 'It was a grind'

Ryan Hannable
April 17, 2015 - 8:29 pm

Joe Kelly had a strong outing Friday night allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 3-2 walkoff win over the Orioles. Most pitchers would be pleased with that as their second outing of the year, but not Kelly. He wants to be better. "It was a grind," Kelly said of the game. "Good hitting team and they were fouling off some pretty good pitches tonight. I was around the zone. I felt pretty good with my stuff. Like I said, they had a good game plan and a good approach. Put together some pretty good at-bats. I was just happy to keep the team close today. [Ryan Hanigan] came up big and our defense came up big too to keep the game close." Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three. The issue was he threw 118 pitches, two shy of a career-high, and didn't make it to the sixth inning. Baltimore's hitters made him work, working counts and fouling off a number of pitches to drive his pitch count up. "€œHe had great stuff," manager John Farrell said. "They did a good job of staying within the strike zone, not chasing some fastballs just off the edge. A number of foul balls that run the pitch, or run some deeper counts. I thought once he got into the fifth inning he started to use his curve ball a little bit more to slow some hitters down. He still maintained his stuff throughout the 118 pitches thrown. Probably a little bit more than I would have liked to take him tonight but still he kept his power throughout." In the sixth inning the lead off man, Steve Pearce, reached on an error. Then he retired the next two batters before walking Chris Davis. With two on and two out Farrell didn't take any chances with Kelly at 118 pitches and called upon Edward Mujica, who struck out Manny Machado to get out of the jam. Even over the 100-pitch mark, Kelly was hitting 96 MPH on his fastball consistently. Earlier in the game he hit 100 MPH twice. His fastball isn't his only pitch. In his first start of the year against the Yankees, Kelly threw his slider 18 times, getting swing and misses on it on 11 of the 12 times he threw it for a strike. Friday was a different story, as he didn't get the same results. According to, Kelly threw the slider 15 times, but only for eight strikes, and one swing and miss. 12 of the 15 pitches came in the first three innings, and then he went away from it after he saw he wasn't getting as good success with it as last Saturday in New York. Especially coming off a spring training where he dealt with a bicep injury, going 118 pitches in the second start of the year and maintaining the velocity he did is a positive sign for the 26-year-old, who many have said has the best "stuff" in the rotation. "Oh yeah, of course," Kelly said of being pleased throwing 118 pitches. "I am one of those guys when I am out there kind of have the blood in my eyes. I'm a fierce competitor. I don't even know how many pitches [I've thrown]. As long as I am feeling good I like to go out there and pitch for my team. I would throw 200 pitches if I had to. It's something I didn't really look at or notice. It's something you don't want to worry about as a pitcher."