Red Sox Notes: Alex Cora Explains Why He’s Still Comfortable With Bullpen

The Boston Red Sox bullpen was knocked around Friday night, but manager Alex Cora doesn’t appear overly alarmed.

It was far from a sterling night for Sox relievers, as they combined to allow four runs on eight hits over 2 2/3 innings in Friday night’s 6-3 loss to the Houston Astros. All six of Houston’s runs were scored on the bullpen’s watch, but the first two were inherited runners from starter David Price.

Ryan Brasier got a high-leverage opportunity, taking over with a 2-0 lead in the seventh with runners on first and second and one out. The first pitch from Brasier was slapped off the Green Monster by Yuli Gurriel, bringing a run in. Tony Kemp later drilled a two-run double down the left-field line, which gave the Astros a one-run advantage.

Brasier mostly has been good this season, but poor location coupled with good at-bats from the Astros proved too much for the right-hander.

Joe Kelly was the biggest mess, allowing three straight singles to begin the eighth. By the time the frame — which began with a 3-3 tie — ended, a sacrifice fly, wild pitch and single resulted in three runs crossing the plate.

That said, Cora asserts he still is comfortable with his current crop of relief pitchers.

“I’m comfortable,” the Sox skipper said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “I think Ryan, if he executes that pitch on Gurriel we’re in good shape. Obviously pitch selection with Tony Kemp, we will go over it tomorrow. We still have to execute and one thing for sure with that team (is) they do an outstanding job finishing teams. They’re great, especially in the last third of the game.

“There’s a few things that I saw last year (from Boston) that I’ve seen in the last month that we’ll talk about as far as pitch selection and where we go with fastballs, especially to right-handed hitters. And if we do that I think we’re going to be able to open up not only the inside part of the plate but the outside part of the plate.”

Both Cora and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski have been hitching their proverbial wagons to the relievers hashing out their issues. While the stuff from each pitcher tonight was good, it is clear some issues remain down the stretch.

Here are some other notes from Friday’s Red Sox-Astros game:

— The most disappointing part of the bullpen fiasco is the fact that it ruined a solid start for Price.

In his first start since last Wednesday, when he was knocked out of the game with a left wrist contusion after getting drilled by a comebacker, Price was dialed in. He allowed two runs on as many hits with 10 strikeouts and a pair of walks over 6 1/3 innings of work.

Price responding that way from getting drilled, plus turning in the performance he did against one of the American League’s best, assuredly is promising for the Red Sox.

— Matt Barnes was unavailable Friday night due to inflammation in his left hip.

Cora noted after the game that Barnes got an MRI on his hip Thursday and that he was available to pitch during the Sox’s three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, but that he tried his best to stay away from him.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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