BOSTON - First Impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles:
It was hardly textbook, but Joe Kelly was able to limit the damage in an otherwise rocky start.
Kelly didn't have a single 1-2-3 inning among his five -- the closest he came was in the first when he walked the leadoff hitter, then got three straight outs -- and issued five walks and gave up seven hits.
That's a lot of baserunners, but somehow, Kelly kept getting himself out of jams. He stranded seven.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, he needed 114 pitches to record 15 outs, leaving four innings for the bullpen to get. Still, limiting a hot Orioles lineup to just two runs should count for something.
Few infielders make a better relay throw than Dustin Pedroia and that came in handy for the Sox in the second inning.
J.J. Hardy hit a ball to center which caromed off the wall to Mookie Betts. Betts fired the ball to Pedroia, as Hardy wheeled around second and headed to third. Pedroia drifted from second to third as the throw approached, and catching it, spun and fired a seed to third, cutting down Hardy at third.
Instead of having a the leadoff man on third with no out, the Sox had one out and no one on. And Pedroia to thank.
All Mookie Betts needed, apparently, was a return to Fenway.
After a 1-for-20 skid that stretched from Opening Day in Cleveland through Toronto, Betts has been on a tear on the current homestand.
He was 3-for-5 Monday with a homer and two runs scored and an RBI; 2-for-5, both doubles, a run scored and an RBI Tuesday; and 2-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored Wednesday.
Koji Uehara has adapted to the set-up role seamlessly.
Uehara pitched a scoreless eighth inning and has now pitched five innings without a run. In fact, the two-out single that he yielded to Caleb Joseph was his first hit allowed in five appearances.
Uehara has faced 17 hitters and retired 15 to date and been about as dominant as he was for most of the time in which he served as the Red Sox closer.
Craig Kimbrel rebounded nicely from his poor outing Monday when he came into a tie game in the ninth and promptly gave up a three-run homer to Chris Davis, sending the Sox to a 9-7 loss.
Kimbrel attacked the top third of the Baltimore lineup with no fear and picked up a save with three straight strikeouts.
That it took Kimbrel eight games to notch just his second save is evidence of how tough the first 10 days of the season have been. (Remember, Monday's home opener was not a save situation). The Sox have simply not been in a position to hand him the ball with a late-inning lead thanks to the struggles of their starters.