"After the third inning, he really settled in. Used his curveball a little bit more. He started to elevate his fastballs for strikeouts," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And on a night when he wasn't completely healthy in terms of some illness he was dealing with, he threw the ball exceptionally well."
Kelly's fastball hovered between 94-95 mph in the first few frames, but it reached as high as 98 mph in the late innings.
The right-hander relied heavily on his fastball on a night when his secondary pitches weren't as crisp.
"My fastball was working for me tonight. I gave up a lot of hits on my offspeed, and my slider wasn't breaking like it normally did," Kelly said. "I couldn't really throw a changeup over the plate. I made some pitches when I had to and had command of my heater."
The Rangers hit shots up the middle throughout the game, with one even clipping Kelly's hand in the third inning. Farrell and a Red Sox trainer went out to check on him, but Kelly was able to shake it off and stay in the game. His right hand was wrapped in gauze after the game.
"He takes the one-hopper off the hand that after the initial sting went away, it didn't affect the way he threw the baseball," Farrell said. "Got a couple of big strikeouts with men in scoring position."
With Wednesday's loss, Kelly is 0-3 in his last seven starts, matching the longest winless stretch of his career. The right-hander's only win came in his first start of the season against the Yankees.
"It's baseball. We lost. The guy over there pitched a good game," Kelly said. "Sometimes you have to tip your hat."
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.