BOSTON (CBS) — Joe Kelly really can do it all.
The new Red Sox pitcher was once again solid on the mound, tossing six innings of two-run ball in a no decision against the Cincinnati Reds, but it’s what he did on the base paths that has people talking.
After leading off the third inning with a single to right field, Kelly found himself on second base after a sac bunt by Brock Holt. With Dustin Pedroia at the plate, Reds’ starter Mat Latos paid little attention to Kelly as he danced around the bag throughout the at-bat. Finally, with the count 3-0 to Pedroia, Kelly casually took off for third and notched the first steal of his career.
It’s also the first steal by a Boston pitcher since Bill Landis committed base path larceny back in 1969. You have to go back even further to 1959 for the last time a Red Sox pitcher stole third base, when Tom Brewer did it against the Cleveland Indians.
“I figured since I was in the A.L. I wouldn’t get very many more chances,” said Kelly, who was stranded at third. “I always told my team but the Cardinals never let me run because I pulled my hammy. I figured this might be my only opportunity. I saw my opportunity and just took it.”
As for his work on the mound, Kelly has now made two starts since being acquired by Boston from St. Louis for veteran pitcher John Lackey and been impressive in both. He has allowed just three runs in 13 innings, and calmed down nicely after allowing two first-inning runs against the Reds.
He credited his secondary stuff for getting him out of the first inning jam, noting that his fastball wasn’t as crisp Tuesday night.
“Without the secondary stuff, today could’ve been really ugly, so that really saved my behind,” he said. “I was able to flip some curveballs in there for a strike, some slider/cutters in there for a strike. The changeup wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but I made a couple good pitches with it.”
Interleague play is over for the Red Sox this season, so Kelly can go back to focusing on his job on the mound. He had a front row seat for Yoenis Cespedes’ eventual game-winning blast in the eighth — a 433-foot, two-run dinger that led Boston to victory, but Kelly doesn’t see any long blasts like that coming off his bat in the future.
“Hit the ball as far as Cespedes? No, that’s never going to happen,” Kelly joked with reporters. “Maybe put it in the air when the wind’s blowing out and get a home run? I just try to hit singles and get on, be a nuisance on the base path.”
So maybe he can’t hit the long ball, but there’s a lot that Joe Kelly can do on the baseball diamond.
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