Much of the blame for Sunday’s Red Sox loss falls on the shoulders of Matt Barnes.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Barnes, prior to the series finale against the Angels, looked virtually unhittable as Boston’s closer this season. But the right-hander wasn’t able to seal a Boston series sweep over Los Angeles, as the two-out, go-ahead home run he allowed to Shohei Ohtani proved to be the game-sealing blow in the Sox’s 6-5 loss to the Halos at Fenway Park.
Closers, more so than anyone else in baseball, can most benefit from having a short-term memory. That’s the approach Barnes plans on taking after suffering his first blown save of the campaign.
“I don’t consider my run over,” Barnes told reporters, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “I just gave up a couple runs today and lost the game, but I don’t think the run’s over. …I don’t know that I expected to go 100%. Obviously, that would have been awesome but a lot of things have to go right in this game for you to be 100% all the time. You know, go out there on Tuesday — if it’s a close game — get the ball again and lock it down again. It’s a funny game sometimes, you know? It’s a funny game. I’m not gonna change the way that I’m approaching guys. I’m not gonna change the way I’m attacking guys, the way that I’m pitching guys because I gave up a couple runs today. It’s not gonna happen. So, I’m gonna go back out there and do what I’ve been doing for the first seven weeks of the season. Seemed to be working out pretty good, so I don’t plan on changing a thing. Start another run on Tuesday.”
Given the way Barnes has pitched over the first month-plus of the season, it’s easy to understand why there won’t be even minor breaks in his confidence.
Here are some other notes from Sunday’s Angels-Red Sox game:
— Arguably the best defensive play of the contest for Boston came from an unlikely source: J.D. Martinez. He perfectly played a Jared Walsh double off the Green Monster and nabbed Ohtani at home with a laser beam of a throw. The Red Sox now have 13 outfield assists in 2021, the most in all of baseball.
— To say Barnes tipped his cap to Ohtani after the game would be an understatement.
“I personally think he’s the most physically gifted baseball player that we’ve ever seen,” Barnes said of the dual-threat phenom. “I don’t know that you’re ever gonna see someone who can throw it 101 (mph) and hit the ball 600 feet. I mean, he’s a special player. He’s incredibly talented and hopefully he stays healthy and has a long career.”
— Jonathan Araúz, in his fourth game of the season, had himself a nice afternoon. The 22-year-old infielder drove in Boston’s first run of the game in the third with an RBI double and also added a single.
— Kiké Hernández wasn’t at Fenway on Sunday, but he still managed to make history for the Red Sox organization. Hernandez, who’s currently in Worcester rehabbing a hamstring injury, hit the first-ever grand slam for the WooSox.
Hernandez also clobbered a solo shot in the WooSox’s 7-4 win over the Syracuse Mets. Alex Cora still is unsure when the versatile veteran will rejoin the Red Sox.
— Barnes fully understands the nature of the beast that is being a closer, which further clarifies why he won’t be perturbed about one bad outing.
“Nobody’s ever finished the season with a 0.00 ERA, I don’t think,” he said. “A full season, a full 162 with a 0.00 ERA. You’re going to give up runs, you’re going to blow games. It’s gonna happen, you know? As a reliever, when it’s a one-run game in the ninth, when you struggle it all falls on you. If you’re a guy in the middle of the lineup — in baseball, in general, if you’re a hitter and you’re struggling a little bit but the team is doing well, maybe it gets a little overlooked. But in my job, I have to be perfect almost every single time and when I’m not, it’s seen a little bit more in the public’s eye which is totally fine. That’s what I signed up for. But I’m gonna get back on the horse Tuesday and this doesn’t change a thing. I’ll continue to go out there. Like I said, I feel good. I’m gonna continue attacking the zone. That might be the first first-pitch fastball I’ve given up a hit on this year, so I’ll take those odds all day long.”