McAdam: Still reason to be impressed by Sox pen

McAdam: Still reason to be impressed by Sox pen
June 14, 2013, 1:30 pm
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BALTIMORE -- Statistically speaking, the Red Sox' bullpen ranks in the bottom half of American League teams, ninth out of 15 teams.
Measured against all of baseball, they're 17th, again, slightly below average.
But even the morning after the bullpen was tagged with a loss in a 13-inning 5-4 setback to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards Thursday night, there's reason to be encouraged by the work of the team's relievers.
Start with Thursday, when Alex Wilson invited trouble by issuing a two-out walk in the bottom of the 13th, then gave up consecutive singles to help the Orioles walk off.
Lost in the line score is the fact that a number of relievers had shut out the O's for seven previous innings after starter Felix Doubront had failed to get through the fifth inning.
Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa and, until the 13th, Wilson had turned back the Orioles inning after inning. When the night was over, it was hard to quibble with a group that allowed a single run over 7 1/3 innings.
The hard part, of course, was that the one run came on the road, in extra innings, and led to a loss.
But it was part of a recent pattern in which the Boston bullpen has provided quality relief -- and done so over multiple inning stints.
On Wednesday, in the series finale in Tampa, four different Red Sox relievers had taken care of the final 12 outs following the spot start from Alfredo Aceves.
Tazawa, Breslow, Koji Uehara and Andrew Bailey combined to face 11 Rays and allowed two hits, no walks and no runs. OF the nine outs recorded by the quarter, seven came by strikeout.
(The Sox are second in relief strikeouts and second in strikeouts per nine innings).
And even in Monday's marathon at Tropicana Field, when Bailey stumbled and allowed two runs in the 10th after the Sox had taken their second lead of the night in the top of the inning, Bailey managed to put himself back together in time to wiggle out of a bases-loaded no-out jam when no margin for error existed.
Following Bailey's escape job, the Sox got three nearly perfect innings from Uehara (six batters faced, six retired) and Morales (one inning, no hits, two strikeouts, one walk).
In other words, after the Rays had rallied in the 10th to push the tying run across, Red Sox relievers faced 12 hitters and retired 11 of them.
On Friday, the Red Sox promoted Rubby De La Rosa to the big leagues. De La Rosa had been starting for Pawtucket (even early in the season when the Sox were managing his post-Tommy John innings) and will give the Sox another power arm in the back end.
The loss of Joel Hanrahan for the season ended the Sox hopes for having a truly deep bullpen with numerous closer options. But as the season progresses and roles develop, it's hard not to be impressed with how they've pieced together the rest of the bullpen.