ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Kelly was cruising. So were the Red Sox. So what exactly happened to turn a four-run lead for the visitors into a 7-5 loss to the Rays on Wednesday night?
"I didn't get ahead of the hitters," said Kelly. "I fell behind with my fastball, which was pretty good for me tonight, and that sixth inning, I tried to get too fine with it and fell behind hitters and had to throw it down the middle from then [on]. They put good swings on balls and got some good hits."
It was the latest example of a Boston starter coming out strong and faltering dramatically in the mid-innings.
"Didn't have quite the same action through the strike zone with his stuff," said Farrell. "He was in good shape in terms of pitches thrown through five innings. He came out and gave four consecutive base hits and the walk. The sixth inning has become a challenge for our rotation of late."
Due to the inability of the rotation to pitch deep into the game, the bullpen has been asked to do a lot for the Red Sox. The 'pen was magnificent in Tuesday's 1-0 win.
Boston's relief corps couldn't rescue Kelly in this one. Craig Breslow was greeted by a two-run, game-tying single by pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer.
What was Breslow trying to do?
"Either freeze him away or get some weak contact to keep the ball on the infield," Breslow said. "Didn't turn out, but it wasn't a bad pitch. Just didn't get the result."
Edward Mujica didn't get good results either, giving up two singles and two runs in the seventh, including a solo homer off the bat of Jake Elmore.
Kelly was disappointed it had to come to that.
"It's tough, yeah, especially when our guys were playing so well and our hitters were making good swings and scored a bunch of runs," Kelly said. "It's something where I try to take pride in that kind of stuff and try to go as deep as I can in the game, and it just got away from me there in the sixth."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.