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Why reliever Joe Kelly is in a groove for the Chicago White Sox – including taking advantage of the clock – The Mercury News

Houston Astros second baseman Mauricio Dubón hit a high chopper in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox on May 13 at the guaranteed rate field.

Reliever Joe Kelly and first baseman Andrew Vaughn tried to make the play. Kelly fielded the ball, but Dubón was safe — partly because no one was on the sack.

That was it in terms of recent damage against Kelly ahead of Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. While the right-hander’s 18-game hitting streak ended with José Ramírez’s two-out triple in a scoreless eighth, he struck out 34 of the last 36 he faced with 16 strikeouts.

“It’s health, number one, and two would be strikes,” Kelly said ahead of Tuesday’s game on the reasons for his success. “It’s my 11th year and at some point it’s like that every season. But I will soon be 35 in 16 days and I feel good. I’m in a good position with health, strength and body and how fast I can run my little fast twitch muscles.

Kelly extended his scoreless streak to 10 games over 10⅔ innings.

“It’s one of the best things in the league,” reliever Kendall Graveman, who pitched ninth on Tuesday for his fourth save, told the Tribune. “He is in a very good state of mind at the moment. He is someone who loves competition. He’s a guy you always want on your team because he hates losing. »

Romy Gonzalez gave the Sox the lead in the seventh, lining up a two-run brace on the first pitch with the bases loaded and the score tied. The Sox scored three goals in the inning, which they started to trail 2-1.

Dylan Cease allowed two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings for the win. The Sox finished the game without center fielder Luis Robert Jr., who came out in ninth with a tight right hip. It is day to day.

Through Monday, Kelly was 1-1, 2.70 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 13 appearances. He had opponents limited to a .149/.167/.255 slash line.

“He’s got plus-plus stuff, some of the best stuff in the game,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “And now he commands with great confidence. He’s been doing this for a long time (first appearance in the big leagues in 2012). His business keeps getting better. It hasn’t deteriorated at all.

“Now he is more experienced and able to handle the ball a bit more and he is able to control his pace and tempo on his delivery, and he has different deliveries, holds and sets. He’s a handful right now for opposing hitters.

Kelly continues to vary her time at home plate with different leg hitches before pitching as the pitching clock runs out to disrupt a batter’s timing.

“It’s fun,” Kelly said. “Baseball is a fun game and the clock has added another element to my game, and if it’s there and it’s legal, that’s something I want to take advantage of.

“It’s like driving on the freeway that says 65 and the left lane goes 80. So if you can go 80, why not go 80? There’s no reason we can’t have fun playing baseball.

Kelly was a big part of a bullpen that is having a good month. Through Monday, the Sox relievers were second in the majors in opponents’ average (.198) and third in ERA (2.69) since May 1.

“Everyone is throwing well,” Kelly said. “I said in spring training that we were capable of doing this. We had the guns and obviously at the start of the year we struggled.

“As a unit, we communicate well with each other. We communicate well with our staff. And we kind of know when guys need a day or don’t need a day. When a guy is hanged, we can give him that day off and put another guy in there.

“Everyone gets reps, and reps are important for everything. The reps we were able to spread around the bullpen were helpful for everyone.”

Eloy Jiménez begins a rehabilitation mission

Eloy Jiménez left the Sox on Tuesday to enter rehab with Double-A Birmingham. The Barons are on the road against the Tennessee Smokies until Sunday.

“He will go there for three, four days,” Grifol said. “We will evaluate it and see when we can add it.”

Jiménez, on the disabled list after undergoing an appendectomy on May 6, will see time in right field and designated hitter when he returns.

“That’s why he’s going to rehab to make sure everything is ready,” Grifol said, “and when he comes back he’ll be playing where it’s needed.”

Infielder Elvis Andrus is also close to a rehab assignment. He’s been on the IL since May 13 with a tight left oblique.

“Elvis is doing really well,” Grifol said. “I went out there (Tuesday at Progressive Field), ran, threw, punched, very few restrictions, if any. I will probably be going to rehab…mid to late next week.


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