The Boston Red Sox were not able to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night. Starting pitcher Joe Kelly pitched a strong game, but the Blue Jays were able to get to reliever Junichi Tazawa to beat the Red Sox 5-2. Kelly pitched the game despite a minor shoulder twinge that caused the right-hander to be removed from his prior star.
Kelly has still not recorded a victory since being acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. On Wednesday night, Kelly pitched well enough for the win, but was pulled from the game after pitching six-plus innings of work. Pitcher Tommy Layne relieved Kelly after he gave up a leadoff double to Edwin Encarnacion in the bottom of the seventh with Sox leading 2-1. Layne gave up a single to Dioner Navarro to put runners on the corners, and that led to Tazawa entering the game.
Tazawa, who has a history of struggles against the Blue Jays, instantly gave up a three-run homer to pitch hitter Danny Valencia to put the Blue Jays up 4-2. Toronto added an insurance run in the inning to secure the victory. Entering the game, Tazawa had a 6.52 ERA in 19 1/3 career innings against the Jays. His struggles continued Wednesday night.
Red Sox manager John Farrell tried to explain Tazawa’s struggles against the Blue Jays after the game. He told reporters that Japanese right-hander’s past issues against Toronto may have been caused by tipped pitched.
Tazawa said he fixed that problem. He told the press through an interpreter, “That was a fact in the past, it was mentioned in the past when I had some meetings with my coaches, but I think I’ve already eradicated that. I’m using my breaking balls a little more, sidestepping…those are the things I’m incorporating into my pitching. I think I’m doing a better job, obviously I didn’t pitch as well [today] but I’m making some improvements.”
Although the Red Sox suffered another loss, it was encouraging to see Joe Kelly fight through a minor injury and pitch the type of game he pitched. He finished the game only allowing two runs on three hits. He walked two batters in the game, which is something he’d like to work on.