BOSTON -- Koji Uehara needed just 13 pitches to strike out the side in the top of the ninth Wednesday, nailing down his eighth save in eight tries and convincing manager John Farrell that he had turned a corner of sorts.
Just one problem: Uehara didn't agree with the manager and believes he still had a lot of work to do.
There can be little argument about this point: Uehara had been less than his dominant self of late. Going back to the last road series in Toronto, Uehara gave up six hits in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two runs.
He even, shockingLY, walked hitters in consecutive outings, something he almost never does.
Even Tuesday night, in the series opener with the Reds, he allowed two hits in an inning, just the third time he's done that in his first 14 appearances this spring.
But Wednesday, Uehara made quick work of the Reds, needing just 13 pitches to record three strikeouts.
"Much more sharp,'' declared Farrell. "I know he's been working on some things. The last few times, he's been (throwing) across himself with his direction in his delivery and it's taken away from the crispness and overall command of his stuff.
"He was able to get back on line a little bit tonight and he was Koji-like, as we've seen for quite a while.''
At least that's how the manager saw it.
"I didn't feel that I was sharp at all,'' said Uehara through his interpreter, contradicting Farrell. "Mechanically, I don't think I'm quite there. And the split (finger fastball), I'm not completely satisfied with how it was acting at all.''
There was one thing the closer and the manager agreed upon: part of the problem has been throwing across his body.
"I think that's true,'' said Uehara. "I'm still trying to throw right at the hitter but it's a work in progress.''
Uehara has been watching video to detect the delivery issues, but could "feel it myself while I'm throwing.''
Uehara missed a week in mid-April with some inflammation in his shoulder, but said the mechanical flaw isn't a result of compensating for the issue.
"I think it's more of some accumulated fatigue,'' said Uehara. "I'm not that young.''
Asked what he's doing to work through the problem, Uehra cited long-toss, playing catch and "constantly reminding myself in the game.''
As for the splitter, his signature pitch, Uehara was frustrated that he was too often elevating it to hitters.
Flashing his sense of humor, Uehara had a brief response when asked how close he was to figuring things out.
"A season,'' he said, smiling broadly.