Red Sox Notes: Matt Barnes Earning Trust With Composure In Key Spots

BOSTON — The Oakland Athletics aren’t very good. The Red Sox are taking advantage of such.

Boston outlasted Oakland 4-2 on Saturday at Fenway Park. The Red Sox, who have won back-to-back games against the A’s in the wake of a sloppy performance Thursday against the Minnesota Twins, appear to be generating some momentum, though this season has shown that nothing’s a given.

The Red Sox recently returned home in shambles following a 1-6 road trip through Minnesota and Texas. They’ve gone 4-2 on the current homestand, evening their record at Fenway this season at 14-14.

Let’s run down some notes from Saturday.

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— Joe Kelly likely saved his job.

The Red Sox, who have been using a six-man rotation of late, are about to revert back to a five-man unit. Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Eduardo Rodriguez will be joined by either Kelly or Steven Wright.

“Both have pitched out of the bullpen, both have given us very good starts,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before the game. “Both are competent and capable major league pitchers. We’ll make that decision in the coming days.”

Kelly pitched well enough against Oakland that he’ll probably stay put rather than transition to the bullpen. Wright already has pitched in relief this season, and he’s proven to be pretty much the same pitcher regardless of his role.

Kelly’s win versus the A’s — his first victory since April 11 (his first start of 2015) — snapped a career-long nine-start winless streak. It was the longest such drought by a Red Sox starter since Brandon Workman went 0-9 in an 11-start stretch last season.

Asked after the game how much extra pressure he felt given Boston’s shrinking rotation, Kelly replied, “Zero.”

— Red Sox starters are 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA and a .173 batting average against in June. They’ve allowed six hits or fewer in each of those outings, all of which have been quality starts.

— Boston’s offense is trending upward.

The Red Sox, who finished with 11 hits, have collected at least 10 hits in three straight games. They’ve also recorded at least 10 hits in seven of their last nine games at Fenway.

Farrell was asked before the game if he expects the offense to heat up as the weather gets warmer, which prompted an interesting response from the skipper.

“I hope we’re not tied to the temperature,” he said. “If we have the ability to get to where our goal is, we’re going to be playing when it’s cold out. I’m not going to go there with temperatures.”

— Hanley Ramirez launched a two-run homer as part of a three-hit effort. The slugger expressed a desire to take charge but also said after the game he’s focused on staying healthy this season.

“I haven’t done that for the last three years,” Ramirez said. “It’s what they want me to do is stay on the field and keep playing your butt off.”

— David Ortiz scored his 1,068th run as a member of the Red Sox, moving him ahead of Wade Boggs for sixth-most in franchise history.

— Tommy Layne has retired the first batter he’s faced in 16 consecutive appearances. He’s also stranded his last nine inherited runners.

— Matt Barnes continues to emerge as a high-leverage weapon.

The right-hander struck out the only batter he faced, Marcus Semien, to end the top of the eighth inning. Semien represented the potential go-ahead run, as Ben Zobrist and Brett Lawrie walked against Alexi Ogando and Layne, respectively.

“He’s making quality pitches. Regardless of if it’s the sixth inning or the ninth inning, to me, what we’ve seen is a guy that takes a very similar approach,” Farrell said. “There’s been a couple of appearances where some fastballs have leaked back (over the plate) that he’s had to pay. But, for the most part, he keeps very composed in tight spots.”

— Alejandro De Aza has a hit in each of his first two games with Boston. He’s expected to see time at all three outfield spots as the Red Sox look to give him regular at-bats, according to Farrell.

— Justin Masterson is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday, after which the Red Sox could have a clearer outlook on whether he’ll require another rehab outing. His role with Boston moving forward has “yet to be determined,” according to Farrell.

— Pablo Sandoval’s absence from the lineup for a second straight game centered on Boston’s desire to give the third baseman a breather while he smooths some things out in batting practice. He’s expected to return Sunday.

Thumbnail photo via Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images

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