Sox bullpen combines to shut down Twins

Sox bullpen combines to shut down Twins
June 18, 2014, 12:15 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON - The Red Sox' starting rotation has been giving the team a chance as the offense sputters and stumbles, contributing six straight quality starts on the homestand so far.

But the role of the bullpen shouldn't be overlooked, either.

On Tuesday night, four Red Sox relievers faced a total of nine hitters and only one -- a two-out walk issued by Craig Breslow -- reached base in the team's 2-1 win over the Twins.

Heading into the game, the Sox' bullpen had a 2.80 ERA, second best in the American League.

Burke Badenhop came in for just one hitter and retired Kurt Suzuki on a groundout, extending Badenhop's scoreless streak to 16 innings. He's now gone 30 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run the third-longest such streak in club history.

Junichi Tazawa was dominant in the eighth inning, striking out the side.

And with Koji Uehara deemed unavailable after throwing in each of the previous three games -- and four of the last five -- John Farrell opted to give the one-run save situation to Edward Mujica.

"The reason we brought Edward in here,'' explained Farrell, "was to be that secondary close on days when Koji wasn't available or in the event of an injury that might have been unforeseen. He feels more comfortable in that ninth inning -- there's added adrenaline, better stuff.''

Mujica had a rough start to his time in Boston, but has been better of late, and Tuesday night featured some of his best velocity. He fanned both Josh Willingham to start the inning, then struck out Kendrys Morales, too, before retiring Oswaldo Arcia on a flyout to left for the final out.

That was critical on a night when Farrell wanted to avoid not only Uehara, but also power lefty Andrew Miller.

As they've done far more often than not, the bullpen, collectively, got the job done.

"There's been some hiccups along the way,'' allowed Farrell. "But I think, for the most part, guys have come in, thrown strikes and we've been able to match up as best we can. They've been very good through the first 70-plus games of the season.''