Notes: Breslow gets out of big jam in 8th

Notes: Breslow gets out of big jam in 8th
September 18, 2013, 1:15 am
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(AP Photo)

BOSTON – Craig Breslow had no margin for error. Entering Tuesday’s game against the Orioles in the eighth inning with the score tied, no outs, and runners on second and third, Breslow would need to retire the meat of the Orioles lineup if he hoped to get out of the jam unscathed. He would face Chris Davis – who had hit a solo home run in his previous at-bat for his 51st home run of the season, a new Orioles record – followed by Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis.
 
Breslow needed just six pitched to put down the O’s rally. He needed just two pitches each to Davis and Jones, getting the O’s Nos. 3 and 4 hitters to groundout to shortstop Stephen Drew, before getting Markakis to fly out to Mike Carp in right field.
 
The O’s, though, might have lost that battle, but they won the game, getting to normally lights-out closer Koji Uehara for a run in the ninth and the 3-2 win.
 
“It was a pretty tricky situation,” Breslow said. “At that point just trying to get the guys at the plate out. If I can save the runs, that’s a bonus. But ultimately we’re trying to win the game so while I could be happy with my performance personally, the most important thing is trying to win the game. And I’m pretty confident Koji will start another streak tomorrow.
 
“It’s a tough situation, trying to minimize damage with what the middle of that order is capable of doing. And just kind of taking it one pitch at a time. If I can keep the ball on the ground with the infield in, we’ve got a chance to save the runs. And obviously with each out, I got a little bit more confident and with the two outs and the base open I was able to make some pitches a little more aggressively than where I was earlier in the inning.”
 
“Second-and-third, no outs. We’re not trying to lay it over the middle,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “I think we wanted to get the lefty [Davis] out so that was a big out. Once Jones got up we weren’t trying to throw him anything near the strike zone. We wanted him to swing at our pitches. Bres threw two good cutters that broke his bat then once we got two outs we still had to get that third one. Markakis is a good matchup for him as well. Threw some fastballs in, able to get a pop up.”
 
While the three Orioles batters he faced are always capable of damage, Davis had already done so earlier in the game. His home run off starter Ryan Dempster in the sixth tied the game. It was his fourth home run against Sox pitchers this season, matching his season high against one team along with the four home runs he’s hit against Blue Jays pitchers.
 
“I challenged him with fastballs,” Breslow said. “I tried to keep the ball down in the zone and get him to hit the ball on the ground. He hit the ball hard. But fortunately it was right at Stephen.”
 
Manager John Farrell was impressed by Breslow’s ability to contain the situation.
 
“In hindsight he probably should have started the 8th rather than put him in a situation where he’s coming in with a couple of men on,” Farrell said.
 
“What Bres did in the 8th inning to shut off a difficult situation, I put him in a bad spot and he pitched exceptionally in that role.”
 
Breslow, though, had no qualms about the situation.
                                                      
“I’m not incredibly particular about the situation that I go in,” he said. “I’d like to think I can be successful regardless of the circumstances and the way work had thrown the ball the inning before, I was absolutely in favor of keeping him in there at that point. Do I draw up going in with second and third and nobody out? Obviously not. But you got to kind of make the most of the hand you’re dealt.”
 
In 57 appearances, spanning 56 innings, this season, Breslow has posted a record of 5-2 with a 1.93 ERA. In 26 second-half appearances, spanning 24 innings, he is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA. In his last 28 appearances since July 9, Breslow is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP, giving up 18 hits and 10 walks.
 
“He’s been doing that all year,” Saltalamacchia said. “He’s been one of our top guys out of the pen. Using him in every situation. We really use him a lot. That’s how he’s been all year and we didn’t expect anything different.”
 
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Despite the Sox’ loss, with the Rays losing, the Sox magic number to clinch the American League East is now 3.

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The Indians won so the Sox’ magic number to clinch a play-off spot remains at 2.

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The Red Sox were held to three hits, their fewest in a game since two on August 23 at the Dodgers.

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The Sox have dropped their last three games decided by one run after winning their previous five.

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The sox went 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts, and have now been successful in the last 35 consecutive attempts. They lead the majors with an 86.2 stolen base percentage (119-for-138) in 2013.
 
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Ryan Dempster started but was not involved in the decision. He gave up two runs on three hits and four walks, striking out five in six innings. It was his 14th quality start of the season, but just his second since the All-Star break. In his last 13 starts, he is 2-2 with nine no-decisions.  He has a 2.19 ERA, giving up nine earned runs in 37 1/3 innings, in six career starts against the Orioles, his lowest vs. any AL club.

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Dustin Pedroia  hit his 99th career home run leading off the Sox half of the first inning, snapping a 176 at-bat homerless drought since July 31. It was his third career regular season leadoff homer, and first since Oct. 3, 2009, against the Indians. It was the third lead-off home run for the Red Sox this season, with the other two by Jacoby Ellsbury.  

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Stephen Drew had two stolen bases, his first career multi-steal game.

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The Sox are now 6-8 against the O’s this season, but have outscored Baltimore 55-49.

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The Orioles had three errors in the game, matching their season high for the sixth time. They have 113 error-less games this season, tying the 2008 Astros for the most errorless games in a season. They entered the game leading the majors with a .992 fielding percentage, with just 43 errors in 149 games.