Bullpen vital in Red Sox' resurgence

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Bullpen vital in Red Sox' resurgence

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The same bullpen which dug the Red Sox a deep hole in the first two weeks of the season is now a big factor in the team's attempt to turn the season around.
Case in point: Thursday night, Bobby Valentine used five different relievers to get the final 10 outs -- including, at one point, four different pitchers to get four straight outs -- in the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Tampa Bay.
"I was going with the matchups that I wanted to win that game," said Valentine. "Certain guys, I was staying away from, certain guys I wanted to go after. (The relievers have been) super. They're getting ready, they're throwing strikes, they know their job, they're passing the baton.
"I'm proud of them. They should be proud of themselves. They're being highly professional."
That's not just managerial hyperbole speaking, either. Since April 23, the Boston bullpen sports a 1.38 ERA, the best in the major leagues. Since the start of May, the bullpen is pitching to a 1.51 ERA, allowing just 11 earned runs in 65 23 innings pitched. When Vicente Padilla allowed a run in the eighth inning, it snapped a consecutive scoreless streak of 13 innings for the pen.
It began with Rich Hill, who came on in relief of starter Felix Doubront with the potential tying run on third and the potential go-ahead run on second with two outs in the sixth.
Hill got Luke Scott to fly out to end the threat. In the seventh, Valentine nearly wore out a path from the dugout to the bullpen, changing pitchers with every Tampa hitter.
Scott Atchison, Andrew Miller and Padilla retired three different hitters.
"It obviously worked," said Atchison of the strategy. "Everybody lined up and threw the ball well and was able to get the outs. I know you don't see that a lot, but with three lefties, it makes it possible to do something like that."
Atchison said the team's 17-inning loss to Baltmore almost two weeks ago might have been turning point for the bullpen's confidence level.
"Everybody is contributing now," he said, "and doing their part. We all felt that it was going to happen sooner or later. I think we had confidence from the get-go and it was just a matter of time before everybody got rolling."
"Everybody's doing what they're asked to do," said Hill. "With the three lefites we have coming out of the bullpen, all with plus stuff, it's a great thing for us to have."

Quotes, notes and stars: Barnes takes the blame in loss

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Quotes, notes and stars: Barnes takes the blame in loss

BOSTON -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

QUOTES

“That one’s one me. I’ve got to do a better job of securing that lead and getting out of that inning.” - Matt Barnes on giving up the lead.

“When he tries to go down and away to right-handers, the ball’s leaking back to the middle a bit. That was the case against [Lorenzo] Cain [and Raul] Mondesi in this case tonight. It’s on the plate first pitch, bases loaded he’s trying to get a strike to get ahead. But in general, Barnes has pitched to the edge at times and missed, and then when he’s on the plate it’s probably found the middle of the plate a bit too much.” - John Farrell on Barnes’ outing.

“I think everybody in that bullpen believes in every single person down there.” - Barnes said on the bullpen.

“It was good, everything was good . . . Just the fastball command was a little out of control.” - Eduardo Rodriguez on his left hamstring and his performance.

 

NOTES

* David Ortiz launched his 31st home run of the season, which also marked the 534th of his career, tying Jimmie Foxx for 18th on the all-time home run chart.

* Mookie Betts recorded his Major League-leading 56th multi-hit game of the season.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. finished 1-for-2, bumping his average to .317 (77-for-243) at Fenway this season.

* The Red Sox grounded into four double plays, tying their season high on 6/12 against Minnesota.

* Matt Barnes’ ERA jumped from 3.68 before Sunday’s game to 4.45 after giving up 5 runs without recording an out.

 

STARS

1) Raul Mondesi

Mondesi’s bases-clearing triple in the sixth opened the floodgates and gave Kansas City the lead they would continue to build off.

2) Matt Strahm

 Strahm relieved Yordano Ventura after his short 4 and 1/3-inning outing. He held the Red Sox scoreless through 2.2 innings to earn his second win of the season.

3) Salvador Perez

Perez launched his sixth home run in his last eight games against Boston. He became the Royal to homer in three-straight games at Fenway since Billy Butler did in 2011.

First impressions: Red Sox implode in 6th inning, lose to Royals, 10-4

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First impressions: Red Sox implode in 6th inning, lose to Royals, 10-4

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 10-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Boston’s bullpen continues to be a roll of the dice every night.

This time Matt Barnes was the latest reliever to suffer from the plague that’s filled this bullpen all season.

Part of it was bad luck on two perfectly placed balls, the other part was Raul Mondesi lacing a triple, and Lorenzo Cain smacking a single.

Robbie Ross was better, but not by much.

No lead seems safe in the hands of any Boston reliever.

 

David Ortiz keeps putting himself in the same breath as legendary Hall of Famers.

This time it was former Red Sox great Jimmie Foxx, who Ortiz is now tied with at 534 home runs, 18th all time.

Early in the season he’d match a legendary player every so often, it was impressive. Now it’s almost to be expected every night he plays.

Next on the all-time home run list is Yankee Legend Mickey Mantle with 536.

 

The bottom of the order continues to play an important role in Boston’s run production.

Chris Young got things started in the fifth, then Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. kept it rolling so both Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts could cash in all three runners.

Moving JBJ back to ninth Saturday proved to be a good move, and moving Leon back down with his recent scuffles seems to be the best move, too.

Not only can they knock each other in any given instance, but they also put Dustin Pedroia (or Holt) and Bogaerts in run-producing situations, as opposed to just setting the table.

 

Chris Young’s hamstring shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

He was able to leg out the soft grounder to third base in the first inning.

Young has lost a step or two with age, but it seemed like he opened it up on the play.

Hopefully that’s a sign of the end of the injuries in left field this season.

 

Junichi Tazawa looked strong.

That’s more so an observation of his fastball reaching 94 mph.

Tazawa has a long way to go before he’s back to where he was, but the righty took a step in the right direction Sunday night. He retired Kansas City’s 2-3-4 hitters in his first inning and working past a leadoff single in his second inning of work.