The bad news: Joe Kelly started this game.
The good news: By the time it was over, I totally forgot.
Top Play (WPA): Boston and Chicago treated the lead like a hot potato in the middle part of this one, which explains why there were 11 plays with +.100 or higher WPA. The White Sox, not surprisingly, logged the top pair with Tyler Flowers’ go-ahead seventh inning single (+.187) and Adam Eaton’s game-tying double in the sixth inning (+.162). The top play from the Red Sox ended up being a Ryan Hanigan ground ball to third in the fifth inning, which turned into a two-out go-ahead run after White Sox third basemen Tyler Saladino made a throwing error. It was downhill from there for Boston.
Bottom Play (WPA): Alexei Ramirez grounded out to Pablo Sandoval in the top of the fifth with runners on second and third and one out, the game tied at six. In retrospect, like a lot of plays in this game, this one is fairly forgettable. At the time, however, it seemed important.
Key Moment: The lead changed hands so many times during the middle of this one that it’s hard to pinpoint any definitive turning point. Instead, I’ll go with an obvious answer: when the Red Sox decided to pencil in Kelly as their starting pitcher. I listened to the first couple of innings on the radio, and let me tell you, Kelly starts are more pleasant as audio-only experiences. The back-to-back triples to start the game were a nice touch.
Look, I don’t mean to pile on Kelly. If you squint while looking at his stat line, it’s not all bad. He’s got a strikeout-to-walk ratio above two, and he’s only allowed 11 home runs in 80 innings, which is bad but not, like, ungodly bad. And he throws hard and the stuff looks good once in a while and he gets ground balls and he’s only 27. He’s cheap, too, and doesn’t figure to get much more expensive the way he’s going.
There are some things to like — you can surely dig deeper and find others — and the Red Sox may as well run Kelly out there for a while so they can try to determine if he’s part of the future, at least as a starter. That said, there’s just something frustrating about watching — or let’s face it, listening to — a Kelly start. The bouts of wildness, the missed locations, the seemingly endless barrage of hard contact. It’s not pretty, usually. But this isn’t news to you.
Trend to Watch: The Red Sox dealt Shane Victorino to the Angels just prior to last night’s game for an infielder named Josh Rutledge, and they also recalled Rusney Castillo from Triple-A Pawtucket and stuck him in right field. With Dustin Pedroia on the disabled list, Rutledge figures to get a chance to stick on the big-league roster even though he posted a less-than-inspiring .241 TAv in 947 plate appearances with the Rockies from 2012 through 2014 and doesn’t appear to have a go-to defensive position.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, it’ll be interesting to see what other moves Boston makes. Do the Red Sox try to ship out spare parts like Mike Napoli, Ryan Hanigan, or a reliever or two, or do they really make wholesale changes, maybe trying to unload a contract or, on the flip side, pick up someone like Cole Hamels or Tyson Ross? Either way, Boston should start (or continue to) giving more playing time to its young, less proven talent — Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart, perhaps starting pitchers like Brian Johnson and Henry Owens. It probably won’t be dissimilar to last year, where the Red Sox used the last half of the season to find out, for example, that Christian Vazquez could really catch.
Coming Next: The Red Sox have three more with the White Sox from Fenway before hosting a three-game set with the Rays over the weekend. Tomorrow night the suddenly useful Wade Miley takes on Jeff Samardzija. Miley’s gone at least six innings in 12 of his last 16 starts, which might not seem impressive until you realize that he didn’t last six innings once in April.
Photo by Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports Images