Tazawa's struggles against Blue Jays continue

Tazawa's struggles against Blue Jays continue
August 27, 2014, 11:00 pm
(USA Today Sports Images)

TORONTO -- Junichi Tazawa's history with the Toronto Blue Jays has never been good. None of that changed Wednesday night.

Brought in with two on and none out in the seventh inning and the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead, Tazawa yielded a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Danny Valencia. He then yielded another run later in the same inning as the Red Sox fell to the Blue Jays, 5-2.

Of the 20 homers Tazawa has allowed in his major league career, eight have been hit by Toronto. Before Wednesday night, he had a 6.87 ERA in 19 career appearances against the Blue Jays.

"Given where we were in the order,'' explained John Farrell, "and the history he's had against the guys he was projected to face...he's had his struggles against (Edwin) Encarnacion, against (Jose) Bautista and other guys at the top of the order.

"But I felt like, coming off of (Tuesday) night, when he was in the same part in the order and pitched exceptional...we certainly can't run from him. And having held Joe (Kelly, starter) back (after some shoulder discomfort in his last outing), that was the option available.''

Farrell hinted that the Sox had detected that Tazawa may have been tipping his pitches in the past against Toronto, and addressed it.

"I think they picked up something that I feel like we corrected,'' said Farrell, "probably two and a half months ago. Tonight was a matter of a ball that ran back to the inner third of the plate against Valencia, rather than staying down-and-away from him.''

"I looked at the video and the pitch to Valencia leaked back quite a bit,'' confirmed Tazawa, "and went inside. I missed my location.''

Tazawa was, of course, aware of his history against the Jays, but tried to disregard that on the mound as he tried to protect a one-run lead.

"Im aware of the history,'' he said, "but at that point, I have completely blocked it out at that point. I'm just trying to be aggressive.''

Tazawa, who pitched a scoreless inning against Toronto Tuesday night, said he was focused on using his breaking stuff more and also slide-stepping to give the Jays a different look. He acknowledged that he may have tipped some pitches against them in the past, but added: "I think I may have already eradicated that.''

There's also the issue of late-season fatigue. Tazawa went into Wednesday with a team-high 62 appearances, tying him for fourth-most among American League relievers. Wednesday marked his fourth appearance in the last five games.

"I know I've been pitching a lot,'' said Tazawa, "but I think it's more that (the team) has more of a trust in me, putting me in those kinds of situations. I just have to do a better job. I don't think I can use (fatigue) as an excuse. I don't feel that way. Maybe it is affecting me, but I can't tell you (that for sure).''