Joe Kelly called Busch Stadium in St. Louis his home for the first two and a half years of his young career. So it must have been strange when the right-hander pitched there Wednesday night as a visiting player.
Kelly made his Boston Red Sox debut against his former team in a city where he became a fan favorite for his work with the Cardinals.
Kelly came over to Boston, along with teammate Allen Craig, in a trade that sent John Lackey to the Cardinals. Kelly had put up very average numbers in 2014 with St. Louis after suffering some early season injuries. He went just 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA with the Red Birds this season. But he looked like his old self in his return to St. Louis and pitched very well against his former team.
It did not start how Kelly would have liked in a Boston uniform when he coughed up a double to the leadoff man Matt Carpenter. The line drive to right put a runner in scoring position straight from the get-go. But Carpenter did not come around until Matt Adams singled him home with a base hit to right field. The two-out RBI gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead, which stood up until Boston tied the game in the fourth.
After the early run allowed, Kelly settled in nicely in his old home. Well, not exactly right after the first. Kelly got off to another rough start in the second when AJ Pierzynksi singled and then Kelly walked Oscar Taveras. Jon Jay came up with a chance to give the Cardinals some early separation, but he bounced into a double play: shortstop to second base to first base. Kelly got Matt Carpenter to ground out after walking the opposing pitcher Shelby Miller.
The leadoff hit to Pierzynski would be the last hit Kelly gave up in the game. He retired 15 of the last 17 Cardinals he faced, including a pair of strikeouts. The only two base runners came on walks from Kelly. In all, the former Cardinal went seven innings before being pinch hit for in the top of the eighth inning.
His new team nearly gave him a chance to win his debut in the eighth, but Dustin Pedroia grounded into a double play against relief pitcher Seth Maness. Will Middlebrooks also failed to execute a sacrifice bunt earlier in the inning before a Brock Holt single. Kelly earned a no-decision after his great outing.