Joe Kelly, White Sox’ bullpen keeps rolling in 4-2 victory against Guardians

Kelly tosses another scoreless inning after Dylan Cease pitches six innings of two-run ball.

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Joe Kelly throws out the Guardians’ Amed Rosario at first base on Tuesday.

Joe Kelly throws out the Guardians’ Amed Rosario at first base on Tuesday.


CLEVELAND — White Sox reliever Joe Kelly didn’t mind.

A conversation about his recent lights-out relief streak? No concerns about jinxing it?

None whatsoever.

‘‘It’s for the mentally weak,’’ Kelly said of such talk. ‘‘Same with superstitions and all that.’’

It’s more about being healthy again and throwing strikes with electric stuff that has worked for Kelly, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the Sox’ 4-2 victory Tuesday against the Guardians. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last 10 2/3 innings.

This one was too eventful for the Sox’ liking, though, with Kelly calling out the Sox’ training staff after he pounced on a tap in front of the mound to retire Amed Rosario for the second out. After Kelly took a few warmup tosses, Jose Ramirez hit a 101 mph fastball off the wall in right field. Kelly, however, got Josh Naylor to ground out, protecting the two-run lead.

Manager Pedro Grifol wasn’t specific, but he indicated that Kelly has a bit of a lower-body issue and that his arm is fine.

‘‘Kelly is doing great,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘No issues with Kelly.’’

The Sox’ bullpen, which backed starter Dylan Cease’s six innings of two-run ball with three scoreless innings, has a 2.08 ERA in the last 14 games. Kelly is a big reason why.

‘‘It’s probably the story of my career in general,’’ said Kelly, who until this stretch had not lived up to his two-year, $17 million contract. ‘‘It’s my 11th year, and at some point it happens like that every season. But I’m about to be 35, and I feel good. Like, I’m in a good spot with health No. 1 and strength and body and how fast I can get my little quick-twitch muscles firing. But I’m in a good spot, definitely.’’

The Sox (20-30) are in a better spot than they were after losing 3-0 in the first game of the series and will have a chance to win the series Wednesday, although they’ll have to do it without center fielder Luis Robert Jr., who exited the game in the ninth with tightness in his right hip/quad area.

Cease (3-3, 4.60 ERA) allowed five hits and two walks while striking out three, a whiff ratio well below his standards — he had only five swinging strikes among 88 pitches — but he logged his third quality start in a row. In those, Cease has allowed five runs in 18⅓ innings.

‘‘Definitely the best I’ve felt in quite a while,’’ Cease said. ‘‘I feel like I’m getting really close to sync-ing everything up.’’

Sox starting pitchers have a 2.60 ERA in their last 12 games, ranking third in the majors during that span.

Yasmani Grandal hit a tying solo home run against left-hander Logan Allen in the fifth, and Romy Gonzalez doubled in two runs in a three-run seventh and made a nice play in the field.

Shortstop Tim Anderson, meanwhile, still is looking for his first homer and is batting .244 after going 1-for-5.

But Anderson also made a nice play, making a diving stop on a sharp grounder by Andres Gimenez behind second in the fourth and saving a run by keeping the ball in the infield. When Guardians baserunner Josh Bell kept running around third, Anderson easily threw him out at home.

‘‘The greatest thing about the play TA made was there was absolutely no panic,’’ Grifol said.

Offensively, Anderson — who led the majors with a .335 batting average in 2019 — is ‘‘an [at-bat] away, a game away from taking off and hitting .320 the rest of the year,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘I’m not concerned, I’m not panicked.’’

Kendall Graveman pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save, nailing down the Sox’ sixth victory in their last eight games.

‘‘We are pitching well, we are playing pretty good defense and we are finding ways to step on home plate,’’ Grifol said.

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