Kelly, Miller face off to a draw

Kelly, Miller face off to a draw

Credit: Getty Images

Kelly, Miller face off to a draw


by Elizabeth Eisele | @elizabetheisele / JJ Bailey | @TheJJBailey

Posted on August 7, 2014 at 12:49 AM

(BaseballStL) -- Much was made of the start between best friends Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly Wednesday night, but after all the hype, the two found themselves equally matched. 

Before Kelly was able to throw his first pitch in his former stadium, he received a standing ovation from the crowd as he made his way to the bullpen for warmups.

"That was crazy," he said, "Definitely hard to put into words. I got a whole standing ovation before stretching. The Cardinal fans and people here are so incredibly awesome. I can't thank them enough for that. My heart started beating fast and I just tried to keep it together."

Miller and Kelly jokingly placed a wager on the start; whoever got a hit off the other would cough up $100. Things took an interesting turn in the bottom half of the second inning as Kelly issued a walk to Miller, but the latter was stranded on a fielder's choice.

Then in the third it was Kelly's turn to face Miller. As he stepped up to the plate, the Cardinals played his walk-up song, the Backstreet Boys song 'Backstreet's Back.'

"They played my walk-out song and I was kind of surprised," Kelly laughed, "but it was a pretty special moment. It definitely gave me the chills."

He stepped into the box ready to hack at the ball and hit a chopper just over Miller's outstretched glove forcing Jhonny Peralta to make a quick play as Kelly hustled down the line. First base umpire Gary Cederstrom called Kelly out originally, but a challenge from the Red Sox ended up overturning the call and awarding Kelly the infield single and making him the winner.

"He’s fast. I’ve never seen him run those out like that," Miller smiled.

Though the bet was in jest, Kelly still said he would check in on his spoils. 

"We'll see. I'll talk to him later," he answered when asked if Miller would pony up the cash. 

In the fourth inning, Kelly had a scare when he took a line drive from Oscar Taveras off his leg.

"It definitely hurt, it left some seams and some swelling," Kelly said. "But I didn't want to come out of that game. I want to just go out there and gut it out."

He went on to pitch seven innings, matching his best friend nearly pitch for pitch as they both surrendered a lone run. Now that the game is behind the best buds, Kelly admitted they both enjoyed the experience.

"There were some emotions there. after the first inning, i just realized it was pitching again. Once you let go of that ball, it's just pitching from there," he said. "It was different, but it was definitely fun. I'm glad I got that [cheap] hit off of him, but definitely it was something we both enjoyed very much."

"I thought it would be a little bit more odd than it really was. Like I said, you don’t try to make too much of it. The biggest thing is just to go out there and pitch. When he’s in the box, you’re pitching to him," Miller said. "He threw a great game. Obviously hat’s off to him for pitching well and matching every inning almost with mine. They just got us at the end."

Now that Kelly has made his first start for the Red Sox, he hopes to put the questions behind him.

"Pretty soon people are going to stop asking me all these questions about the trade," he said, "I guess when the last question comes I'll be a lot easier and be able to enjoy this ball club here."

Before he said goodbye to his time in St. Louis, the 26-year-old spent one more moment with Busch Stadium. After the game, as the ground crew began their work, Kelly and Miller met on the field with their wives. 

Clad in their respective club's jerseys, the two posed for a group picture with center field and the Gateway Arch in the background. It was a fitting end to Kelly's time with the Cardinals and Miller. After a career's worth of competition between the two, they had fought to a draw and ended once more side by side.