Sox bullpen rounding into form

748713.jpg

Sox bullpen rounding into form

CHICAGO -- A week ago, the Red Sox bullpen was the laughing stock of baseball, having blown an eight-run lead and compiling an ERA over 8.00.

But very quickly, the bullpen has turned around.

On Saturday night, three Red Sox relievers -- Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves -- combined to get the final six outs and lock down Jon Lester's 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.

The win was the sixth straight for the Sox -- evening their record at 10-10 -- and in that stretch, Red Sox relievers have allowed just one earned run over 15 23 innings for a microscopic 0.57 ERA.

"They're coming together,'' declared manager Bobby Valentine. "You play the season and build the little parts of your team and I think the bullpen is coming together nicely.''

Aceves, who loaded the bases in Minnesota Wednesday night before closing out a one-run lead, had a much easier time of it Saturday, returning the White Sox in order in the ninth on two groundouts and a strikeout.

He has five saves in seven opportunities.

"We talked to him and told him that he doesn't always have to throw it 97 mph,'' said Valentine. "Tonight, he threw some very effective fastballs at 93-94 mph and still had the 97 mph. He pitched. He got that final strikeout on a changeup.''

Morales, who allowed a single in between a popup and strikeout, is now unscored upon in his last 22 road games, dating back to June 28, 2011. That's a club record for a lefty pitcher and the longest road scoreless streak since Jonathan Papelbon stitched together 25 games from Sept. 23, 2005 through July 8, 2006.

Valentine wanted the righty-on-righty matchup, so he summoned Padilla for Paul Konerko (walk) and Alex Rios (groundout).

The rebound for the relievers doesn't surprise the team's No. 1 catcher.

"That's what we have down there,'' said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "That's a tough bullpen. It was only a matter of time before those guys were going to get comfortable and show what they can do.''

Tanguay: I would give up Mookie Betts for Chris Sale

Tanguay: I would give up Mookie Betts for Chris Sale

Gary Tanguay and Greg Dickerson debate whether they would include Mookie Betts in a trade to get Chris Sale, or if the Boston Red Sox are better with Betts staying despite needing help in their rotation.

Dombrowski: Red Sox not eyeing 'significant' deal at deadline

Dombrowski: Red Sox not eyeing 'significant' deal at deadline

While some reports nationally have the Red Sox in search of a dramatic deal in the run-up to next Monday's non-waiver trade deadline, Dave Dombrowski hardly sounded like someone seeking a blockbuster to improve his club.

"I'm not necessarily looking to make something significant,'' said Dombrowski, ''because we've already added. We have five solid starters. Could they be better? If we have five All-Stars, we're better. But we have five guys we like. Our offense is the best in baseball as far as run production is concerned. Could we better? Sure. Will we be open-minded? Sure. But I don't see that there's a driving force (to do something).''

Certainly, there seem to be plenty of interested trade partners, as Dombrowski revealed that on Monday alone, the Sox received five different trade proposals that they hadn't received before.

"So that's why this time is year is interesting,'' said Dombrowski. "We also have some very good young players in our organization, so some teams are looking for those players. And I can say we're not close to making any trades right now.''

If the Sox have an area of weakness at this point, it's the bullpen, thanks to a season-ending injury to Carson Smith, a long-term injury for Koji Uehara and the current DL stint for closer Craig Kimbrel.

"I think our bullpen will be fine,'' Dombrowski predicted. "We're dealing with a tough situation, for the simple fact that we've had a lot of injuries. (Junichi) Tazawa's up and he's back and pretty much getting to the point where he can get back to his normal routine. Kimbrel threw the ball very well today; I wouldn't be surprised if he joined us relatively soon.

"So all of a sudden, you've got (Matt) Barnes, (Brad) Ziegler, we brought up (Joe) Kelly, (Robbie) Ross has thrown the ball very well for us. Can it be better? Sure. You listen to anything at this point. But. . . I know people keep saying 'They've got to add somebody, they've gotta add somebody.' But they forget that we're getting Kimbrel back and we just got Tazawa back.

"You look at it and if those two guys weren't back. My answer would be yes, we need to do something. But I think we're more in a position where we're open-minded but it's not a necessity.''

Some teams have called on Clay Buchholz, currently relegated to a mop-up role in the bullpen. But Dombrowski said Buchholz still has value to the Sox.

"He's real good protection for us (in the rotation),'' he said. "I thought he threw the ball the other day as well as I've seen him throw it all year. And I know, if you just looked at the stats, you'd say, 'He didn't do very well.' Unfortunately, we missed a couple of balls that were catchable. I thought his stuff was outstanding so he's got a place to help us.''