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Preview: Red Sox (68-75) at Orioles (70-73)
Venue: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Date: September 15, 2015 7:05 PM EDT
When a struggling Joe Kelly was sent to the minors in late July, the trade that brought him to the Boston Red Sox had to be considered a terrible one.
That’s certainly changed since Kelly has gone on one of the best stretches in club history.
The right-hander looks to win his ninth consecutive start while trying to deny the Baltimore Orioles their sixth win in seven games Tuesday night at Camden Yards.
Kelly was acquired along with Allen Craig from St. Louis in exchange for John Lackey and minor leaguer Corey Littrell at last year’s deadline. While Craig has struggled since suffering a Lisfranc injury late in 2013, Lackey has been a key part of baseball’s best rotation this season.
Kelly had a 2-6 record and a 5.94 ERA on July 27 after getting knocked around in his first two starts since returning from a month stint at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Everything changed, however, once the calendar turned to August. Kelly has a 2.59 ERA during an eight-start winning streak and he’s limited opponents to two runs or less in the past seven.
With his 10-4 victory over Toronto on Wednesday, the right-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to win eight straight starts since Pedro Martinez’s nine-game streak in 1999.
“I think we’re all feeling very good about where he’s at and what he’s capable of doing,” interim manager Torey Lovullo told MLB’s official website.
Boston starters have a 2.73 ERA while the club has won 16 of 25. The Red Sox, though, managed three hits off Kevin Gausman and four relievers in Monday’s series-opening 2-0 defeat.
Kelly (10-6, 4.70 ERA) had a 3.32 ERA in three career starts versus Baltimore before allowing five runs and eight hits over 3 2-3 innings in a 6-4 home loss June 23. Caleb Joseph, who had three hits in the opener, has a home run and a walk in two plate appearances against him this season.
Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop and Gerardo Parra are a combined 3 for 25 versus Kelly. Jones, though, is 5 for 12 with two homers and nine RBIs in his last three games, while Schoop is batting .345 during a seven-game hitting streak with three home runs.
The Orioles (70-73) have won five of six since a 3-15 stretch all but knocked them from the playoff race. They’re seeking their ninth win in 10 games and seventh straight at home versus Boston.
‘We still have pride,’ Jones said. ‘We’re still playing for something.’
Since posting a 7.50 ERA over a nine-start span, Ubaldo Jimenez (11-9, 4.22) has allowed four earned runs over 12 2-3 innings while winning his last two.
The right-hander is 2-3 with an 8.06 ERA in nine starts against the Red Sox (68-75), but he’s 1-0 with a 3.12 mark in two this season. Pablo Sandoval is batting .361 with two home runs in 36 at-bats against Jimenez, though David Ortiz is 2 for 15 with one homer.
Mookie Betts went 0 for 3 in the opener to snap his career-best 18-game hitting streak. That was also the club’s longest run since Jacoby Ellsbury’s 19-game streak in 2013.
Dustin Pedroia should be back in the lineup after getting Monday off. He’s 6 for 19 with a home run and two doubles in four games since being activated from the disabled list.