Game Day Notes: Uehara saves the day

Game Day Notes: Uehara saves the day
August 24, 2013, 9:30 pm
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LOS ANGELES -- John Farrell would have preferred to wait until the ninth inning to use closer Koji Uehara. But with the Red Sox bullpen tandem of Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow facing four hitters in eighth and allowing three to reach as the Los Angeles Dodgers sliced the Red Sox' four-run lead in half, Farrell had no other choice.    

He went to Uehara to face A.J. Ellis with two on and two outs, and Uehara performed as expected -- by fanning Ellis and stranding the runners. He then finished the job in the ninth with a routine one-two-three inning, notching his 13th save.    

"Given the momentum they had created, (being) the fourth pitcher of the inning,'' said Farrell, "we needed a big out there and he got it for us. Four outs isn't something we've gone to with him too often, and as high-stress as (the appearances) have been...And once again, in the ninth, he comes out and is as efficient as he's been in any other situation he's been in.''    

The four-out save was the first for Uehara since Aug. 21, 2010. It was his 13th overall save this season. Over his last 18 appearances, he hasn't allowed a run, covering 20 2/3 innings.    

"It didn't bother me at all,'' said Uehara of coming in with runners on base for a change. "I was just concentrating on pitching and the hitters in front of me. Getting out of that inning with the lead was very big for us.''
             
* After a hitless game in his major league debut and a hitless at-bat Wednesday as part of a double switch, Xander Bogaerts got into Saturday's game and collected his first major league hit: a line drive, opposite field single to right in the top of the ninth inning.    

"Finally, you know?'' said Bogaerts. "I didn't want to wait any longer, so I'm happy and excited I got the first one out of the way. Hopefully, it's the first of many more.''    

Bogaerts termed the feeling he experienced as the ball shot off his bat as "relief. I just hoped the guy didn't make a Superman catch. I'm glad it fell in. Unfortunately, I didn't score but I'm happy to get the first one out (of the way).''    

Bogaerts, who made his major league earlier in the week, noted that he had been scuffling at the plate a bit while at Pawtucket, prior to his call-up to the big leagues.   

"I'm getting there,'' he said. "When I got called up from Pawtucket, I was going through a little rough stretch. But after a rough stretch, you know that a good one's coming, so hopefully, a good one's coming now.''    

The Red Sox retrieved the ball from the field of play as a keepsake and tossed it into the dugout. Asked what he planned to do with the ball, Bogaerts seemed momentaily confused.    

"What am I going to do with the ball? Hit it,'' said Bogaerts with a puzzled look on his face.    

Told that the "ball'' in question was the souvenir, Bogaerts laughed.    

"I'll probably keep it,'' he said, "and bring it back home to my family and put it in a nice room by itself.''

* The Red Sox have won three games on this West Coast trip and perhaps it's far from a coincidence that Jon Lester has won two of them. As he did in April and the first half of May, when he was the team's most dependable starting pitcher, Lester is again at the top of his game as the Red Sox approach the home stretch.    

"Five days ago in San Francisco might have been his best stuff, from start to finish, maybe since April,'' said John Farrell. "But whether or not he's catching a second wind in the second of the season, it could very well be. But I think most importantly, is his command and the power to his fastball. That sets up everything for him.''    

Lester didn't allow a hit through the first three innings and, thanks to two double plays, faced three batters over the minimum through the first five innings.    

"For the most part, I commanded the ball pretty well,'' said Lester. "I was able to move the fastball around and get some weak contact from a good hitting lineup, so it was good.''    

Over his last seven starts, Lester is 4.1 with a 2.31 ERA, more evidence that the longer break he got at the All-Star break has paid dividends.    

"Since the break,'' he said, ''I've felt good physically and I feel like I'm in a good place throwing the ball right now.''

* The Sox had an embarrassing baserunning snafu in the top of the ninth.    

With Xander Bogaerts on first and one out, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ball to second, which led to a forceout of Bogaerts at second base for the second out of the inning.    

But Ellsbury apparently forgot the number of outs, and believing that the force on Boagerts represented the third out of the inning, removed his batting helmet as he crossed the first base bag.    

He then headed to the dugout. The Dodgers chased after him in foul territory to tag him, but Ellsbury had already been ruled out for abandoning the base.