Joe Kelly holding the Red Sox scoreless through four innings in Game 3

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Cardinals starter Joe Kelly hit 98 MPH with his fourth pitch of the game, striking out Jacoby Ellsbury looking. It might have been a harbinger of things to come. Kelly retired the first nine Red Sox he faced, using a hard, tailing two-seam fastball to induce six ground outs and three strikeouts.

Ellsbury got his team’s first hit when he snuck a grounder past a diving Matt Carpenter into right field to lead off the fourth inning against Kelly. David Ortiz drew a two-out walk, but Daniel Nava struck out to end the inning, failing to capitalize on his team’s first opportunity to get on the board.

Kelly has needed just 51 pitches to get through the first four innings. It’s quite the development as the Red Sox have succeeded throughout the 2013 post-season by taking pitches and driving the opposing starter’s pitch count up early.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.