BOSTON — For months, one of the Red Sox’s many woes has been their bullpen. With Boston’s starters failing to go deep into games often, the bullpen has been overworked, injured and has blown plenty of its outings.
But that was far from the case in Saturday’s 8-0 win against the Baltimore Orioles.
A bullpen day for the Red Sox seemed like a risk given the team’s track record, but they stepped up with Craig Breslow leading the way. The left-hander pitched four shutout innings in his first career start, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out two.
“Now that it’s done and it went pretty well, it was a lot of fun,” Breslow said. “At the time, I was consumed by some other thoughts, but it was a lot of fun.”
Breslow said he was pretty nervous and joked that those nerves didn’t go away until the sixth or seventh inning. But he said the team had starter Rich Hill to thank for the bullpen’s success in Boston’s second straight shutout.
“What we were able to do collectively today was certainly impacted by Rich being able to go out there and throw nine innings yesterday and save the bullpen, so we were obviously in much better shape,” Breslow said. “A bullpen day, if things don’t go so well, can certainly have a pretty drastic effect on the next day and the day after that.”
Still, Breslow said at the end of the day, all that matters is that the Red Sox walked away with the win.
“We won today,” Breslow said. “That’s the most important thing. … I know that maybe the bullpen hasn’t been painted in the most perfect light, but we believe in ourselves, we believe in each other, and I think that’s what matters most.”
Here are some more notes from Saturday’s victory.
— The Red Sox have another bullpen day in the forecast when they take on the Indians in Cleveland to end the season, but there’s no word on whether Breslow will get a second career start.
“I haven’t looked that far in advance to see what Cleveland’s lineup has looked like,” acting manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’re going to all put our heads together — (pitching coach) Carl (Willis), (interim bench coach) Dana (LeVangie), (interim bullpen coach Bob Kipper) — and we’re going to figure out who that guy should be, but (Breslow) certainly deserves strong consideration.”
— Reliever Matt Barnes, who came on in the sixth and seventh innings Saturday, has found his stride in September after posting plus-nine ERAs in June, July and August. The 25-year-old hasn’t allowed a run in six outings (seven innings) since being recalled from Pawtucket on Sept. 8.
— Besides extending his on-base streak to 29 games, Mookie Betts did something else that was pretty impressive Saturday. The outfielder hit two doubles, giving him 62 extra-base hits this season. That’s the most by a Red Sox player before his 23rd birthday since 1940, when two guys named Ted Williams (80) and Bobby Doerr (69) did it.
— After being shut down for the season, Junichi Tazawa and Hanley Ramirez won’t be partaking in any baseball activities. Tazawa is working himself down in his throwing, while Ramirez is only working on conditioning and therapy for his shoulder.
— Third baseman Pablo Sandoval was diagnosed with pneumonia Thursday after suffering through what was believed to be an upper respiratory infection for some time, and now it looks as though his season is over. Sandoval still had pneumonia after another look Saturday, and Lovullo said it’s doubtful Panda will return to the field.
“I think he’s a little disappointed that he can’t play, contribute, be with his teammates,” Lovullo said. “He’s one of the guys. He’s with his teammates wanting to contribute and help his team win games. That’s been a pretty consistent thought that he’s had all year long.”
— Lovullo also announced the rotation for Boston’s upcoming series against the Yankees in New York. Eduardo Rodriguez will start things off, followed by Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Rich Hill.
The acting manager also noted that it would most likely be Rodriguez’s last start of the year.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@RedSox