Uehara's defense helps close out O's

Uehara's defense helps close out O's
June 11, 2014, 12:45 am

BALTIMORE -- Koji Uehara has been as consistent and reliable as any closer in the game over the last year.

His pinpoint control and his devastating split-finger fastball make him a chore for opposing hitters.

But Tuesday night, Uehara used his athleticism and fielding ability to help beat the Baltimore Orioles.

Uehara came on for a save situation in the ninth, with the Sox clinging to a 1-0 lead and immediately gave up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Steve Pearce.

Predictably, the O's had Ryan Flaherty square to drop down a sacrifice bunt. But when Flaherty did so, Uehara pounced off the mound, field the bunt and threw a pea to second to cut down Pearce the lead runner.

Uehara then fanned Nick Markakis and Manny Machado to extinguish the O's.

"Typically, in a sac bunt situation, you just take the out,'' said Farrell. "But he was aggressive. He reads the runner, has a chance and throws a strike to (Jonathan) Herrera at second base. It's a pivotal play at that point in the game.''

Uehara heard catcher A.J. Pierzynski shouting for him to throw to first for the out, but Uehara thought otherwise.

"I assessed the situation,'' he said. "I felt that I could get the out at second. I knew how fast the runner was going to be able to run, so I was able to immediately go to second.''

Added a smiling Uehara: "I might be boasting a little bit, but I won two Gold Gloves back in Japan.''

Just to emphasize his fielding prowess further, Uehara, on his way to a post-game weightlifting session, stopped by the coach's office and bellowed, in perfect English: "No PFP (pitcher's fielding practice) tomorrow, OK?''