Preview: Phillies (53-81) at Red Sox (61-72)
Venue: Fenway Park
Date: September 04, 2015 7:10 PM EDT
One of the worst stretches of Joe Kelly’s career spurred a demotion to the minor leagues.
The right-hander pieced things together after being called back up, though, and turned in a historic month for Boston.
He seeks his seventh straight victory Friday night against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.
Kelly (8-6, 4.94) has finally found himself at the tail end of his first season in Boston, posting a 1.69 ERA over his last five starts. Opponents are 0 for 26 with runners in scoring position in that span after batting .322 in those situations previously.
He became the first Boston pitcher to go 6-0 in a month since Pedro Martinez in May 1999 with Saturday’s 3-1 victory against the New York Mets.
Kelly went 2-5 with a 5.67 ERA through his first 14 starts, prompting the Red Sox to send him to Triple-A Pawtucket for nearly a month. He credited a better mix of pitches for his improvement. His opponents’ .268 BABIP against his change-up is the lowest for any of his four pitches.
“Earlier in the year, I was throwing all fastball and obviously that didn’t work out,” he told MLB’s official website. “It’s just something we’ve been trying to make a point of emphasis early on in the game. Mix in some offspeed pitches and try to get the hitters off the fastball.”
Philadelphia is one of two teams Kelly has yet to face along with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Red Sox (61-72) had a streak of 30 straight starts of at least five innings snapped in Wednesday’s 13-8 loss to the New York Yankees as rookie Henry Owens surrendered seven runs over 1 2-3. New York put together an eight-run second inning, though Boston chipped away with at least one run in each inning from the fifth onward.
“We fall down 10 runs and we didn’t quit,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “We kept coming. Despite that moment where the game got away from us, everybody did their job to pick up Henry, and I was proud of that.”
Boston has won 26 of its last 38 meetings with Philadelphia and allowed only 14 hits while taking two of three April 6-9.
David Ortiz remains five home runs shy of becoming the 27th player to join the 500 club. He has hit .526 with five homers in his last six interleague contests.
The Phillies (53-81) posted a 6.46 ERA during a 3-7 stretch with the bullpen pitching especially poorly. Relievers have allowed 31 earned runs over 36 2-3 innings in that span.
Rookie Adam Morgan (5-4, 4.03 ERA) was solid his last time out, though, limiting San Diego to two unearned runs and four hits over six innings in a 4-3 home victory Saturday. The left-hander was hammered for four homers in his previous start against the Mets.
“I want to stick here and by having outings like the one (against New York) you’re going to get out of here real quick,” he said.
Boston’s Xander Bogaerts is hitting .356 in his last 23 games and .377 for the season against lefties. He also has 13 RBIs in his last 14 interleague games.