Kelly 'exceptional' before reaching pitch count

Kelly 'exceptional' before reaching pitch count
August 28, 2014, 7:30 am
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TORONTO -- Joe Kelly seemed to be cruising.

The Red Sox starter had allowed just one run through the first six innings and had given up only two hits when he allowed a leadoff double to Edwin Encarancion to open the seventh.

But Kelly was lifted immediately by John Farrell, despite only throwing 86 pitches.

Why?

Recall that Kelly was lifted after just five innings in his last start, Friday against Seattle, after "feeling something'' in his right shoulder.

The Red Sox had Kelly go through some tests to make sure there was nothing structurally wrong with the shoulder and cleared him to start.

But there was a pitch limit in mind.

"After he came out of his last game, we had every intention to hold his pitch count down in that 85 range,'' said John Farrell. "He pitched exceptional tonight. He was very good. He had powerful stuff. But we felt like in light of five days ago, we were going to hold him shorter than normal.

"There wasn't concern from a health-standpoint. From a volume standpoint, we didn't want to get past 85 to 90 pitches and where he finished the sixth, with Encarnacion, we felt like that was how we were going to match up. He felt fine in his side session, but more (as a precaution), we weren't going to over-extend him tonight.''

When Kelly left, the game fell apart for the Sox. Tommy Layne allowed a single, and Junichi Tazawa was tagged for a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Danny Valencia as part of a four-run Toronto seventh, leading to a 5-2 win for the Jays.

"It's the manager's decision,'' shrugged Kelly. "I have no right to say anything. I respect every manager I've ever played for. I should have let (Encarnacion) on.''

Kelly finished with six-plus innings and two runs allowed on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

"(The shoulder) is always in the back of your mind anytime something happens,'' he said. "It's something you really don't want to focus on. You start thinking about something else other than pitching and I'm a big-time focus guy and once I get on the mound, I try to focus as much as I can. It wasn't bothering me at all. It was good.

"Leading up to my start, we did all the stuff we needed to get the shoulder ready to go. It was definitely ready to pitch tonight.''