Five-run city: Uehara blows ninth in big way

Five-run city: Uehara blows ninth in big way
August 23, 2014, 12:00 am
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(AP Photo)

BOSTON - For the first time in his Red Sox career, Koji Uehara is trending in the very, very wrong direction.

Padded with a three-run lead, Friday night's game vs. the Mariners was one that Uehara should have been able to sleepwalk through in the 9th inning.

Instead, he may not sleep a wink tonight.

Uehara allowed (in my LeBron voice) not one, not two, not three . . . but five(!) runs in a ninth inning that saw Fenway Park's collective jaw hit the ground.

It wasn't that Uehara was getting hit hard (though Austin Jackson did rip a double off the wall), but he was getting hit in the right spots. Two singles fell in spots too deep for the infield, and too shallow for the outfield. Another walked, which started the two-out rally.

"To me, the key at-bat in the ninth inning was the [Endy] Chavez walk," John Farrell said. "We've got two outs, man at first base and a 1-2 count, and he battles his way back into the count, works out a walk. And then the [1-2] pitch to [Chris] Denorfia, he pushes a base-hit to right field. 0-2 pitch to Jackson for the double and unfortunately [Dustin] Ackley finds the Bermuda Triangle to drive in the two for the go-ahead runs. The lack of finish to Koji's split was the difference in this one tonight."

As Farrell mentioned, Uehara was getting ahead in counts all inning, but couldn't get that final pitch past a Mariners team that isn't ready to sink their season.

"It was bad luck," Christian Vazquez said. "For me, he was attacking the zone and . . . two bloopers, one walk, bad day."

This has been an extremely uncharacteristic streak for Uehara. He has now allowed at least one run in three straight appearances for the first time in his career. His ERA has gone up a full point in one week, from 1.27 to 2.28, as his last three appearances make up seven of the 15 total runs he's allowed this season.

Joe Kelly, who pitched five shutout innings for the Sox before being removed from the game in the top of the sixth inning after tweaking his right shoulder, chalks it up to the game just getting the better of Uehara on a night like tonight.

"Baseball is a crazy game," Kelly said. "Koji is one of the best in the entire league, and to see that happen just shows how hard the game of Major League Baseball is. The guy's been so dominant. For me, looking on the other side of the clubhouse last year in the World Series to watching him be on my team this year, it's definitely a really, really hard game and stuff like that happens. Usually he's automatic. Just had a tough night tonight. Had a walk and a couple soft hits that ended up biting him in the butt and gave up a hit and lost the lead from there. but he's so good and he'll be fine. He'll go out there and probably rattle off another 15 saves in a row and be back to normal."

Farrell said he recognizes that Uehara has pitched a lot over the last two seasons, but noted that he's had two days rest in-between his last two outings.