Takeaways from a boffo night in Busch

ST. LOUIS -- Takeaways from a sodden St. Louis, where Wednesday night’s 63-minute delay might be a prelude to a 24-hour soaking on Thursday:

• The John Lackey trade made more sense at the end of the night than at the start. Joe Kelly, who, among other things, might have been the fastest player on the Cardinals (Clay Buchholz-Joe Kelly match race, anyone?), showed he can pitch a little bit, too.

Three hits and a run in seven innings? Those are the best numbers put up by a Red Sox pitcher in his debut since Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter against the Orioles in 2001, according to crack Sox publicist Jon Shestakofsky.

"Joe was outstanding -- three quality pitches for strikes, a good job using his full repertoire," manager John Farrell said. "His curveball was a very good pitch. It was seeming very easy for him to get to the bottom of the strike zone. Overall, very strong."

The 26-year-old Kelly even showed some Lackey-like grit, taking Oscar Taveras' sharp one-hopper off his thigh in the fourth inning, throwing Taveras out at first and remaining in the game.

"It definitely hurt," Kelly said. "It left some seams, a little swelling, but I wanted to pitch. I didn’t want to come out of the game. They kept an eye on me. My first start for the Red Sox, I wanted to gut it out."

• That $100 bet between Kelly and rival pitcher Shelby Miller, his old pal who served as best man at his wedding, just as Kelly served as best man at Miller's. Overstated, Kelly said, maintaining a straight face.

"One hundred hairs from a doll's head," he said.

That’s the ticket. Kelly won the wager when he beat out an infield hit, though it took a challenge from Farrell to overturn the original out call. (Split the winnings?)

• A two-RBI night for Xander Bogaerts, who also saved a run with a diving play up the middle. A plus-3, in hockey parlance. Bogaerts had been 0-for-15 before his fourth-inning double, a ball that clanked off Matt Holliday's glove at the wall.

• With Mike Napoli at the plate after a leadoff single by Yoenis Cespedes in the ninth, David Ortiz goes out to the on-deck circle to hit for Daniel Nava. Napoli hits an opposite-field double to right, Cespedes stopping at third. Farrell could have called Ortiz back to the dugout, knowing that the Cardinals would intentionally walk him. Why didn’t he?

Farrell explains:

"Recognizing full well that they might take the bat out of [Ortiz's] hands, but they'll probably pitch to Nava, with no guarantees," Farrell said. "And we’re into some right-handed hitters after that. We didn’t want to get in a situation where we left David on the bench if we don't get through that inning. We were limited with the opportunities for him. We couldn't pinch hit for another infielder. Will [Middlebrooks] already had been used. [We] send him up knowing we get an extra baserunner."

Bogaerts made it all academic with his ninth-inning sacrifice fly.

• Let Kelly describe what it's like to go out to stretch before starting to warm up and have 42,000 people on their feet cheering for you. Made you want to scan the field and see if maybe Ozzie Smith had shown up.

But these Cardinals fans are legendary for their loyalty, and they put it on display for Kelly.

"That was crazy," he said. "Definitely hard to put in words. A whole standing ovation before I even started stretching? Cardinals fans are incredibly awesome. My heart started beating fast. I tried to keep it together."

• GM Ben Cherington said that there is a "realistic chance," but no guarantees, that Shane Victorino would be ready for spring training next February after having a disc removed from his back.

• Outfielder Allen Craig is headed to North Carolina for a second opinion after spraining his left foot in his first game with the Sox Friday night. Craig sustained a Lisfranc fracture in the same foot near the end of last season, and he's going to see foot specialist Robert Anderson, who oversaw his care last winter. The injury has plagued Craig this season, but Cherington insists "the long-term prognosis is very good." But the Sox, he said, will proceed cautiously with Craig, even though the player insists he should be ready to return.

One talent evaluator said Craig needs to abandon his tendency to go the other way, especially with two strikes, when pitchers pound him inside, and take advantage of the Green Monster. If he does, he could become a 25-30 home run man, the evaluator said.