When Derek Jeter came to the plate in the top of the first inning Saturday, the sellout crowd at Fenway Park came to its feet and applauded the retiring icon.

Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly handled the situation perfectly. He stepped off the mound, took a few steps onto the grass, and allowed the ovation to continue.

Once Jeter settled into the box, Kelly put sentiment aside in favor of speed. In a three-pitch sequence that was a testament to his skill, Kelley spotted a 95-mile-per-hour fastball on the outside corner that was taken for a strike. His second pitch, 96 and a touch lower, was fouled off. Kelly then hit 99 up in the zone and Jeter swung through it.

On a day many came to see Jeter, it was a game for Kelly, as he and the Sox beat the Yankees, 10-4.

Kelly pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in his career, allowing four runs on nine hits. Manager John Farrell praised the righthander’s work but Kelly was annoyed afterward because he did not pitch the first complete game of his career.

“All those runs, good pitch count early in the game. No excuse,” he said.

In an era when even established starters routinely celebrate pitching seven innings, it was refreshing to hear Kelly expect more. But then, his ability suggests more is out there.

“Feel very good about Joe’s presence in our rotation,” Farrell said. “It’s premium stuff. I think he’s gained some consistency with the use of his fastball, particularly to the glove side of the plate.”

Kelly has a 4.11 earned run average in 10 starts for the Red Sox after being acquired from St. Louis. He pitched at least …read more