BOSTON -- Joe Kelly was brilliant in his return to action, firing 6 2/3 no-hit innings before Juan Uribe cracked a double into the gap in right-center to break it up. Mookie Betts backed Kelly with two homers, including a grand slam, as the Red Sox rolled to a 9-1 victory over the Indians on Saturday at Fenway Park.
Even if the no-hitter had stayed alive, Kelly wouldn't have been able to complete the game due to the fact it was his first game back from the disabled list and he was on a pitch count. The righty threw 104 pitches, the last of which Uribe hit for the double.
"Overall command of the fastball was very big today," said Kelly. "I was throwing it to both sides of the plate. I just felt super strong out there. All the work we've been putting in since I went on the DL of getting the shoulder stronger in the training room, it's just good to go out there and not even think about it and get a little more extension on the fastball and all the other pitches with that strong shoulder."
When manager John Farrell came out to get Kelly, the Fenway faithful gave him a standing ovation. Coming off a right shoulder impingement that had sidelined him since April 20, Kelly walked three (all of them during the fifth inning) and struck out seven.
"Everything," said Indians manager Terry Francona, when asked what Kelly had working for him. "He's got a really good arm, as you could see. And then he started getting comfortable out of the windup. He started throwing breaking balls, even when he was down in the count, which makes it really tough."
It was an all-around, strong day for the Red Sox, who jumped out with three runs in the third and led for the rest of the day. Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 26 games with an infield hit in the sixth. The streak is the longest in the Major Leagues this season and the longest by a Red Sox player during a single season since Manny Ramirez in 2006.
The Red Sox extended their franchise record streak of at least one homer to 21 games when Betts belted a solo homer that just cleared the Green Monster in the fourth. Boston blew it open with a five-run seventh, led by Betts hitting his second career slam.
"I just want to have a good at-bat," said Betts. "I got a pretty good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. I think if anyone is up at that point, you just kind of assume that something good is going to happen, and that's the way we handled our at-bats today."
Trevor Bauer went five-plus innings in taking the loss for the Indians. He gave up eight hits and four runs. Cleveland's lone offensive breakthrough came in the ninth, when Carlos Santana belted a solo shot over the wall in left for his eighth homer of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Slapping around the leather: The Red Sox made a series of great defensive plays while Kelly's no-hitter was still in progress. Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop to take a hit away from Jason Kipnis in the fourth, Kelly helped himself by fielding a slow roller by Chris Gimenez and firing home for the final out of the fifth. Hanley Ramirez made a fine play to his right against Kipnis in the sixth. And Bradley made a basket catch of a sinking liner to take a hit away from Byrd in the seventh, one batter before Uribe ended the no-no.
"We played great defense," said Kelly. "Just all-around, that was a feel-good win. From pitching, to bullpen, to playing defense to hitting, it was fun to watch, and it was fun to be a part of."
Walking the line: After Kelly opened his outing by retiring 13 straight batters, Carlos Santana drew a one-out walk in the fifth. Byrd and Lonnie Chisenhall also drew free passes, setting up a bases-loaded, two-out situation for the Tribe. Gimenez then chopped a pitch to the left of the mound, where Kelly made a backhanded grab before tossing the ball to catcher Ryan Hanigan. The catcher stepped on the plate just in time for the frame's final out.
"I was sitting dead-red fastball middle away," Gimenez said. "I got two in a row and fouled them off. The last pitch was a backup slider. It's a borderline pitch. If I take it, it gets called a strike. If I swing, I can't do much with it. I just tried to put the best swing I could on it. I put two really good swings on those fastballs. It just didn't work out."
Bradley keeps streak alive -- barely: After getting walked on eight pitches in his first two at-bats, Bradley finally got a chance to extend his streak in the bottom of the sixth. Facing Bauer, Bradley spun a 2-2 pitch up the middle and second baseman Jason Kipnis made a fine diving stop. The throw appeared to pull Santana slightly off the bag at first, allowing Bradley to just beat it out for an infield hit. Indians manager Terry Francona challenged the call, but the call stood because the replay official couldn't definitively tell if Santana's foot was in contact with the bag before Bradley crossed first.
"Well, I think there's a clear strategy today. They're not going to give him a chance," said Farrell. "So we may have to adjust some things going forward just so he's got you know maybe a different slot in the lineup, just to be in the middle of potentially building an inning further. But you know, he's in a long streak here. You know his footspeed allowed him to extend it by the ground ball. Kipnis makes a nice play, but his speed forces him to throw it errantly so he continues on." More >
Uribe's blunder: With one out and the bases loaded in the seventh, Tribe reliever Joba Chamberlain induced a possible double-play grounder off the bat of pinch-hitter Christian Vazquez. Uribe gloved the ball at third, but he hesitated and settled for a forceout at the plate. That misstep opened the floodgates for Boston, which blew things open in what turned into a five-run inning.
"We get a double-play ball," Francona said. "He ends up going home and it turned into -- we just couldn't stop it after that. It's unfortunate. The way they were pitching, four [runs] seemed like a lot. So, then once they spread it out, it got really tough." More >
"They were just saying Statcast™ said it came off at like 85 [mph] and it went over the wall. That's pretty much all. Hey, whatever. A home run is a home run." -- Betts, on his teammates giving him a hard time on the grand slam, which had an exit velocity of 89-mph, according to Statcast™
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kelly is 7-0 with a 2.41 ERA in his last eight starts at Fenway Park. Overall, the righty has won his last 10 decisions over 13 starts dating back to Aug. 1, 2015.
HANIGAN HURTS HAND
Ryan Hanigan had to exit with a bruised left hand, sustained when he was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the sixth. Christian Vazquez pinch-hit for him in the seventh. X-rays were negative and Hanigan is expected to be fine.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: For Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET finale of this three-game set at Fenway Park, the Indians will send right-hander Danny Salazar (4-2, 1.80 ERA) to the mound against the Red Sox. Salazar has 35 strikeouts and a .172 opponents' average in 27 innings (four starts) this month for the Tribe.
Red Sox: Sinkerballer Rick Porcello will try to get back on track after failing to produce a quality start for just the second time this season in his last outing. Porcello has always enjoyed pitching against the Indians, going 9-4 with a 3.36 ERA against them in his career.