In his first start since April 19, Joe Kelly took a no-hitter deep into the seventh inning and his Red Sox teammates gave him plenty of support as Boston two-hit the Cleveland Indians on Saturday afternoon, 9-1.
Kelly, the hard-throwing right-hander who was scheduled to face the Indians in the third game of the season but was bumped after the inclement weather in Cleveland to start the year, made his first start against them count on Saturday. He was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game and had no rust on his arm.
He retired 13 straight to start the ball game, bringing a perfect game into the fifth before eventually walking the bases loaded. The Indians, as would be the case all game, could not put bat on ball successfully, as catcher Chris Gimenez gave Kelly his seventh groundout of the game with a comebacker to the mound. Kelly made the unconventional approach of throwing home for the final out of the inning.
While he was making quick work of the Indians, Kelly was staked to an early lead as Boston erupted off of Trevor Bauer in the bottom half of the third. After a fly out to start the inning, Mookie Betts doubled to left and Dustin Pedroia singled to put runners on the corners. Xander Bogaerts singled to center to knock in Betts before Ortiz loaded the bases with a single to right. Hanley Ramirez cashed in with a two-run single to right, the fifth straight Boston hit, to give the Red Sox a three-run advantage.
After sending eight to the plate in the third, Betts stepped into the third pitch of the fourth inning from Bauer, depositing a one-out solo shot above the Green Monster in left to extend the lead to 4-0. It was more than enough for Kelly, who would take his no-hitter into the seventh inning when, with two outs, Juan Uribe hit the gap in right-center for the Indians’ first of two hits on the afternoon. Kelly exited for Junichi Tazawa, who struck out Lonnie Chisenhall to end the only other threat on the day from the Indians.
Bauer was lifted after starting the sixth and replaced by Jeff Manship. Kyle Crockett relieved him in the seventh and got into trouble, giving up a one-out single to Ramirez in the infield and a double to left by Travis Shaw. Jackie Bradley Jr. was walked to load the bases and Joba Chamberlain was called upon by manager Terry Francona.
Chamberlain, after some boos from the Fenway Faithful, got pinch-hitter Christian Vazquez to ground to third base. Instead of making the turn to start what appeared to be an easy inning-ending double play, Uribe opted to come to the plate with the ball for the force there. While the out was made, the decision was costly as it kept the inning going. Blake Swihart drew a bases loaded walk to make it 5-0 and Betts delivered his second blast of the game, a grand slam over the wall in left, to complete the blowout. The five-run inning gave the Red Sox a 9-0 lead.
“I think he probably thought about going to third and then realized he might have been too far,” said Francona after the game about Uribe’s throw home. “It’s tough on the infielders there because we’re not exactly playing at double play depth, we’re playing a couple steps in, and if it’s not hit hard enough, he knows he has to go to the plate. But I think his initial thought was that he was going to go to third and then he realized he might not have time. It’s happening fast for those guys, I get it. That would have been a huge…that was exactly what we needed right there.”
Carlos Santana hit a solo homer over the Monster in left with two outs in the ninth inning off of Heath Hembree to spoil the shutout for Boston.
The Indians’ (22-18) five-game winning streak came to an end with the lopsided loss. They missed an opportunity to pull within a half game of the first place Chicago White Sox, who lost earlier in the day. The Red Sox (26-17) pulled within a half game of the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles, who were on the west coast for a late start against the Los Angeles Angels.
KELLY ON FIRE
Kelly (2-0, 5.28 ERA) returned from the disabled list with a vengeance. After missing more than a month with a right shoulder impingement, Kelly made his fourth start of the season and dominated the Indians with his best start of the year. He lasted a season-high six and two-thirds scoreless innings, allowing just one double and three walks while striking out seven.
Kelly struck out a pair of batters in the second, third, and fifth innings and one more in the sixth.
“He’s got a really good arm, as you can see,” said Francona. “He started getting comfortable out of the windup, started throwing breaking balls even when he was down in the count, which makes it real tough. We got him out of the stretch the one inning and he started to struggle with his command and he got out of the inning. Gimenez took a couple really good swings at fastballs and then we really never got anything going. Squared up a few balls, but they made plays defensively. Pedroia made a couple at second, Bradley in center, and we were never able to get anything going.”
BAUER HUNG TOUGH
Bauer (3-2, 4.31) took the loss after giving up three runs in the third and one more in the fourth. For the second straight start, he was given little run support, as the Indians have scored solo runs in each of those outings.
He was charged with four runs on eight hits with a pair of walks in five-plus innings on the mound. He did not strike out a batter, the first time this season he has failed to retire someone with a K. It has happened just one other time in his career, when he lasted just two-thirds of an inning in a 19-10 Indians win on June 28, 2013, when Bauer allowed five runs on six hits with a walk and two home runs in a short start in the Windy City.
“He found a way to kinda wiggle out of it and, to his credit, he kinda reeled it in and stayed out there until the start of the sixth,” said Francona. “An infield hit, hit batsman. We seemed like we were trying to wiggle out of stuff all day and then we finally got the one inning where it’s bases loaded, we get a double play ball, and he ends up going home and it turned into we just couldn’t stop it after that. It’s unfortunate. The way they were pitching, four seemed like a lot, so once they spread it out it got real tough.”
Bauer is the first Indians pitcher to throw at least five innings without retiring a batter with a strikeout since Brett Myers on April 4, 2013 (h/t to Jordan Bastian on Twitter).
WHERE ARE THE K’S?
Indians pitching did not register its first strikeout until the first out of the eighth inning when Dan Otero struck out Josh Rutledge. It would be the only strikeout by Boston on the day.
Second baseman Kipnis, who entered the game with a .329 batting average playing at Fenway Park, was held hitless in four trips to the plate and was later lifted for Jose Ramirez.
BOOST FROM BETTS
Betts gave Boston a big boost from the top of the lineup. He was 3-for-5 at the plate with three runs scored and five RBI, including a double and two big home runs that cleared the wall in left.
BOSTON HIT PARADE
In addition to the three-hit game from Betts, the Beantown boys got two-hit games from Bogaerts, Ortiz, Ramirez, and Shaw. Pedroia also drew a pair of walks on the afternoon.
BRADLEY STREAK CONTINUES…BARELY
Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 26 games with a sixth inning infield single.
He was intentionally walked in the second and drew another walk in the third to load the bases. Coming up in the sixth, he got a home field hit on an infield single to second. Kipnis made a diving play towards second base and got the throw to first on time, but first baseman Santana had to reach high to corral the toss and took his foot off the base. The official scorer ruled it an infield single instead of placing an error on either Tribe fielder. He would draw another intentional walk in the seventh and grounded out in the eighth.
NO MORE NOE
Poor Noe Ramirez cannot stay in Boston for long. He was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday and optioned back on Thursday. He was recalled again on Friday with the injury to reliever Carson Smith, but was optioned again on Saturday to make room for Kelly on the 25-man roster.
The finale of the three-game set between the Indians and Red Sox is scheduled for 1:35 PM ET on Sunday afternoon.
A pair of pitchers off to strong starts in 2016 will face off, as Boston’s Rick Porcello (6-2, 3.51) will face Cleveland’s Danny Salazar (4-2, 1.80).
Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images