Making his first start since returning from the disabled list after missing a month due to a right shoulder impingement, Boston Red Sox (26-17) starting pitcher Joe Kelly (W, 2-0) entered Saturday's outing against the Cleveland Indians (22-18) with a cloud of mystery hanging overhead.
Joe Kelly dominates
Kelly quickly swatted away any doubts over his return, throwing 6.2 innings of no-hit ball before a double by the Indians' Juan Uribe with two outs in the top of the seventh inning spoiled his bid, pioneering the Red Sox efforts in a 9-1 victory over Cleveland at Fenway Park.
The 27-year-old upped his record since August 1, 2015 to 10-0 with a brilliant performance, yielding just the single hit and three walks while striking out seven batters on 104 pitches. Kelly left to the largest ovation he has ever received from the Boston faithful -- and for good reason.
Mookie Betts paces Red Sox offense
After being held to just two runs in Friday night's loss to Cleveland, the explosive Red Sox lineup broke out, with right fielder Mookie Betts going 3-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI, first baseman Hanley Ramirez chipping in a 2-for-4, two RBI showing, shortstop Xander Bogaerts faring 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI, and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. extending his MLB-best hitting streak to 26 games by beating out an infield hit in the sixth inning. Bradley Jr. walked three times and scored a run, too.
Cleveland saw their five-game winning streak snapped as starter Trevor Bauer (L, 3-2) allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings. The Indians' bullpen struggled mightily as well, with Kyle Crockett allowing three runs on two hits and a walk in 0.1 innings, and Joba Chamberlain letting up two runs in 0.1 innings.
Offensively, the Indians were putrid as well, with Uribe's double and a solo home run by designated hitter Carlos Santana in the ninth inning serving as the team's only two hits on the afternoon.
Boston offense cooks once again
With Kelly pitching a perfect game until issuing a walk to Santana in the top of the fifth inning, Boston jumped on Bauer in the third inning. With one out, Betts doubled before advancing to third on a single by second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Then, Bogaerts chopped an RBI single to center, designated hitter David Ortiz singled to load the bases, and Ramirez hit a two-run single to give Boston a 3-0 lead.
Betts proceeded to increase the Red Sox lead to 4-0 in the following inning, golfing a one-out home run into the first row of the Green Monster seats off Bauer.
Then, after Kelly's no-hitter was relinquished, Boston jumped on the Cleveland relievers in the seventh inning.
With one out and Crockett dealing, Ramirez singled. Third baseman Travis Shaw then doubled off the Green Monster, and Bradley Jr. was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Indians manager Terry Francona brought in Chamberlain to face catcher Christian Vazquez amid a circus of boos from the Fenway crowd, and the move paid off initially with Ramirez being thrown out at home plate on a fielder's choice.
However, with two outs, left fielder Blake Swihart worked a bases loaded walk to bring in the game's fifth run, and on the ensuing at-bat, Betts lifted a 2-1 offspeed offering over the Green Monster for a grand slam, upping the lead to 9-0.
The home run was Betts' ninth of the season, improving his RBI count to 33.
The series will continue on Sunday afternoon as Cleveland's Danny Salazar (4-2, 1.80 ERA) faces off against Rick Porcello (6-2, 3.51 ERA) in the rubber match of the three-game set.