There have been few flaws in the Boston Red Sox’s all-around game this season.
The Red Sox, of course, have torn the cover off the baseball throughout the 2018 campaign, and the starting pitching has been more than serviceable. But if you had to point to one shortcoming for Boston, most would identify the bullpen.
The Red Sox’s bullpen ERA ranked fifth entering Tuesday, but many have wondered if their relief arms are strong enough for a deep postseason run. The bullpen collectively posted a less-than-stellar performance in Game 2 against the Cleveland Indians, allowing two runs on three hits with two walks over 3 2/3 innings in Boston’s 6-3 loss at Fenway Park. The bullpen also allowed an inherited runner to score, which was charged to starter Nathan Eovaldi.
Despite potential question marks that surround his crew of relief pitchers, manager Alex Cora doesn’t believe the panic button needs to be pressed in terms of adding bullpen help.
“No, I mean, the last few games we haven’t had the lead, so we haven’t been able to use Ryan (Brasier) or (Matt Barnes) in situations like that,” Cora said, as seen during NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “Sometimes — the same way we were talking about using our guys a lot when we were ahead — well, it sucks to say, but in a three-game losing streak we’re going to other guys.”
Cora continued: “We feel our bullpen is good. We know we have capable guys that can get the job done. We’re comfortable with them.”
Much of the bullpen criticism has been overblown, as the Red Sox’s torrid hitting pace and the efforts of Chris Sale and Co. have put the team’s relief pitching under an intense microscope. Cora clearly is at ease with his personnel, so we probably shouldn’t expect Boston to acquire a bullpen arm ahead of the playoffs.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Indians:
— The Red Sox now have lost three straight games for just the second time this season. A loss to the Indians on Wednesday would mark Boston’s first four-game skid of the campaign.
— Eovaldi started off his Red Sox tenure with 15 scoreless innings in which he allowed just seven combined hits. In his last three starts, the right-hander has allowed 15 runs (nine earned) on 27 hits over 13 total innings.
— Xander Bogaerts drove in Boston’s first run of the game with an RBI double in the seventh inning. The shortstop has reached base in 14 of his last 17 plate appearances with runners in scoring position.
— Andrew Benintendi, who entered Tuesday with the sixth-most multi-hit games in the American League this season, went 2-for-4 with a double.
— Despite losing four of their last 14 games at Fenway, the Red Sox still boast the best home winning percentage in the big leagues at 71 percent.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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