Matt Barnes' blown save wastes Red Sox' offensive outburst in loss to White Sox

Amin Touri
June 26, 2019 - 5:56 pm
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Wrapping up the final homestand before the All-Star break, a strong offensive performance was overshadowed by another Red Sox bullpen collapse on Wednesday, as a combined seven runs and 15 hits went to waste after another blown save.

Down 6-4 into the eighth against the White Sox, the Boston bats managed an impressive rally to score three times and take a 7-6 run into the ninth, before Matt Barnes left a fastball up and over the plate for Jose Abreu to belt over the Monster seats to undo it all in an 8-7 loss.

"(It stings) lot. I didn't do my job,” Barnes said, deflated and frustrated postgame. “Offense did a phenomenal job of coming back and scoring three in the eighth, and then to give it up like that is tough."

A grounder from Mookie Betts and some aggressive baserunning from Eduardo Nunez got the rally going in the bottom of the eighth, cutting the lead to 6-5, before Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate with two on and two out, slapping a single up the middle to bring home a pair and give the Red Sox a 7-6 lead.

Eight of the nine Boston starters pitched in with a hit on Wednesday, and the only one who didn’t, Betts, still managed one of the day’s most important RBIs. Five Red Sox hitters had multi-hit afternoons, as along with another big day for Devers, Bogaerts was 2-for-5 with two RBIs, J.D. Martinez was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and his 17th homer of the year, Jackie Bradley Jr. was 2-for-3 with a walk and Michael Chavis was 2-for-4 as the contributions came from all over the lineup.

In the end, one of the best offensive performances of the season mattered not, as the bullpen couldn’t close the door once again.

Barnes hasn’t been terrible in the grand scheme of things this season, but has struggled greatly pitching on consecutive days.

Back on June 22, NESN’s Tom Caron reported that Barnes’ ERA to that point with at least a day of rest was 2.19, and without any rest was 8.64. The hard-throwing righty threw a scoreless inning in relief on Tuesday night, striking out two, and came back Wednesday and predictably struggled again.

"We've been playing a lot of close games and we've been using a lot of people,” said Alex Cora. “Chris (Sale) gave us six, obviously it wasn't perfect, we got the lead in the eighth, and (Barnes) was the guy we needed to execute, and it just didn't happen."

Leury Garcia led off the ninth with a single on a fastball up and out of the zone, but was gunned down trying to steal second by Christian Vazquez. Yolmer Sanchez singled on a hanging curveball to bring Abreu to the plate, and the White Sox first baseman put up a great at-bat, fouling off six pitches to stay alive, finding a way to fight off high fastballs and curveballs in the dirt.

One Barnes fastball eventually caught too much of the plate, and Abreu made him pay.

"You've got to continue to execute pitches,” Barnes said. “In the entire at-bat, the only mistake I made is the only one he hit. It's unfortunate, I executed nearly every damn pitch I wanted to and the one that didn't get there he hit a homer on. So it's tough to swallow, when you execute 90 percent of the time, and the one time costs you the game.

"I don't have an explanation of how he got on top of that fastball or how Abreu covered back-to-back curveballs in the dirt and then 99 up at his letters. I don't know. I don't. That's why this one's harder for me to swallow, because it's not like I can come out here and say, 'I missed locations with everything I was throwing, and I got hit around.' I thought I executed pretty much how I wanted to, the only pitch I didn't execute was probably the homer that Abreu hit. Otherwise, I felt like I executed pretty damn well today, and just gave up three hits. I don't know."

With the loss, the Red Sox dropped to 44-38, and are nine games behind the Yankees ahead of a two-game set with the division leaders in London.

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