BOSTON — Craig Breslow‘s flight was scheduled to arrive at 5 p.m. With the rainy conditions in the area, the Red Sox reliever’s flight to Boston from Los Angeles barely landed in time for Wednesday’s game against the Tigers.
Roughly a half-hour before the game’s 7:10 p.m. start time, Breslow finally reached Fenway Park. He inherited Matt Albers‘ old locker and jersey number and was thrown into the fire.
When Aaron Cook unraveled in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Tigers, Breslow officially began his second stint with the Red Sox by pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
“It probably would’ve been nice to settle in a little bit, but at the same time, being able to go out there and get my feet wet is also nice,” Breslow said. “Sometimes, when you have a little bit of time to think about your surroundings, it doesn’t work in your favor.”
It was Breslow’s first appearance for the Red Sox since Sept. 29, 2006 in a game against the Orioles. Back then, Breslow was still finding himself as a pitcher and was shuttling back and forth from Pawtucket.
Six years later, however, Breslow claims he’s a different pitcher. During his time away from Boston — which included stints with Cleveland, Minnesota, Oakland and Arizona — he added a sinker and a cutter to his arsenal.
“Whether [it’s] matching up or throwing innings at a time, I’ve always fought the notion that I was just a left on left guy,” Breslow said. “I feel like my splits through my career have been pretty even. If it’s eating innings or matching up, I feel like I can do both of those.”
Before the game, Bobby Valentine hoped to insert Breslow in the beginning of an inning for a clean slate. But after Cook yielded back-to-back home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the Red Sox skipper was forced to call on Breslow to bail the team out.
As soon as Breslow entered, the reliever struck out Detroit’s Brennan Boesch to end the fifth — his first of two strikeouts — and surrendered a hit to Delmon Young in the sixth before retiring the side.
“You know, that’s a good addition,” Valentine said. “Bres, first time in, had no ill effects from the cross-country flight. Threw strikes, quality. I like what I saw.”
It was an impressive performance, considering Breslow barely consulted with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Due to Breslow’s late arrival, Saltalamacchia never had a chance to learn the pitcher’s tendencies.
“It’s tough because you don’t know how everything exactly moves,” Saltalamacchia said. “You know he’s got all the pitches but you don’t know what he’s going to do with two strikes. Does he like to bury it? Does he like to throw it up? It’s something to get used to and get comfortable with, but for first time catching him I thought he did a great job.”
Especially considering his hectic flight schedule.