Wright goes four strong out of pen in 2014 debut

Wright goes four strong out of pen in 2014 debut
August 17, 2014, 7:15 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON - While most things went wrong for the Red Sox on Sunday, Steven Wright went right.

Wright was recalled to the Red Sox earlier in the day in case the Red Sox needed an arm out of the bullpen.

That's exactly what they ended up needing as starting pitcher Joe Kelly lasted just four innings in a rough outing for the righty traded over from the Cardinals at the deadline.

After Craig Breslow pitched a scoreless fifth inning, Wright came on to pitch the final four innings, allowing just one run - a solo home run in the 9th inning to Jon Singleton - the entire way. He gave up four hits overall and struck out four while not walking anybody.

Wright, a knuckleballer, threw 51 pitches, 38 for strikes. Throwing the knuckler for strikes has been his main focus this year.

"I've been lucky enough to keep throwing strikes," Wright said after the game. "My whole philosophy this year is contact. I think last year I got caught up in too much trying to get them to swing and miss, trying to overthrow, and even though the knuckleball was so good, it was inconsistent with my starting point which made it harder to keep it in the strike zone. So this year since coming back off the DL, my whole goal is to try to throw as many strikes as I can with the knuckleball and hopefully it works and get them put it in play."

This was Wright's 2014 debut with the Red Sox. The first time he was called up this season he did not make an appearance and was sent back down to Pawtucket later that day.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "The first time I had to get warmed up I was a little antsy. It's been a while since I've thrown up here. But once I got in the game I felt like I tried to slow my breathing down, just try to stay relaxed and stay over the rubber. I felt like if I could do that it will help me feel my mechanics more and not get too wild out there. It helps me throw strikes and keep it in the zone."

John Farrell noted that Wright being a knuckleballer can throw opposing teams off.

"He provides such a contrast to some of the power arms that he might follow, so it is a good fit," Farrell said.

But Wright was a starting pitcher down in Pawtucket this season. The mentality going into the game as a reliever is different than as a starter. Even so, he seemed to handle it fine on Sunday.

"You gotta throw strike one," Wright said. "You don't have the luxury of feeling it out in the pen. You only have so many pitches out in the pen to get loose, so you got to find it from the get-go. Today I started an inning, but there's gonna be times where you got to come in maybe with runners on, you don't have time to feel out the strike zone, you just got to throw strikes. I think that's the biggest mentality, is just you don't have as much time to get ready."

BASE KNOCKS

* Brock Holt extended his hit streak to 11 games, a career high, as he went 1-for-4 with a walk on Sunday. He's hitting .286 (14-for-49) with two doubles, two RBI, and 10 runs scored in that span. It's the longest hit streak for a member of the Red Sox since Jarrod Saltalamacchia's 11-game hit streak last September.

* Daniel Nava hit the team's only extra-base hit on Sunday, a double, that scored Brock Holt. Over the last five games, Nava is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with five doubles, four RBI, and three runs. He has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games. John Farrell said before the game that when Allen Craig returns they'll still work to get Nava at-bats.

* Will Middlebrooks had his first multi-hit game since April 25.