BOSTON -- First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 9-1 win over the Cleveland Indians:
Joe Kelly maximized on his time in the minors -- and it’s showing.
Who would’ve thought that Joe Kelly would throw 6.2 innings of no-hit ball in his first outing back? Was he perfect? No. But that could show more value for Boston given their starting pitcher situation.
And as much as it would’ve been nice to see Kelly complete perfection there’s a lot of value to be found in his three-walk, scoreless fifth frame. In an inning where he was off and put himself in a jam, he found his way out, getting the second and third outs with runners in scoring position. With a staff that’s been plagued by having one bad inning, it’s promising to see Kelly avoid any damage when he could’ve easily given up.
The Red Sox need better protection for Jackie Bradley, Jr.
The streak almost died at 25 games, in large part because Trevor Bauer wanted no piece of JBJ. It didn’t help that runners were on base and Ryan Hanigan isn’t exactly a major offensive threat. But thanks to perfect placement -- on both the hit and throw to first -- JBJ extended the streak to 26 games. But if Bauer is a representation of what’s to come, Bradley’s going to find fewer opportunities to extend his lengthy streak. So putting Blake Swihart or Chris Young behind Bradley, instead of Hanigan or Christian Vazquez, could give opposing pitchers more of a reason to pitch to him.
Clay Buchholz just went on notice.
As if he hadn’t already put himself in enough of a hole, Kelly’s performance put the struggling right-hander in a much worse position than he already was. That is good for Boston because he either shapes up or doesn’t throw (or gets dealt) once Eduardo Rodriguez makes his return.
The bullpen can survive without Carson Smith.
As much as a fourth arm would be nice, mainly because Koji Uehara isn’t getting any younger, the Red Sox can be successful with him, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Kimbrel for the rest of the year. They’ll need longer starts from the staff on occasion, much like Kelly’s, but there’s no reason to rush Smith back to the bullpen. Of course, nine runs in support never hurts either.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.