Closing Time: Allen Webster loses control as Sox lose to Yankees

August 02, 2014 - 4:03 pm
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It was looking like another good day for the post-trade-deadline Red Sox. The Sox had a three-run lead after the second inning and Allen Webster was off to a solid start. Thursday's roster overhaul was not only looking like a starting point for the 2015 Red Sox, but this year's club was beginning to look more exciting. Then the third inning happened. Webster crumbled, the Sox' bats went cold and the Yankees came away with a 6-4 win Saturday at Fenway Park. Holding a 3-0 lead, Webster was chased from the game after a disastrous, four-run third inning in which the rookie issued five free passes to Yankee hitters. Webster lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, two hits and six walks for the loss. At a time when the Red Sox are evaluating their young pitchers to see if any of them can offer reliable performance in 2015, Webster's loss of the strike zone represented a considerable red flag. His stuff can be electrifying, but if he can't keep it in the strike zone, it won't matter. The loss dropped the Red Sox' record to 49-61 for the season. WHAT WENT WRONG -- Everything appeared to be going well for Webster by the end of the second inning. He had already tossed a pair of clean innings and was given a three-run lead after an offensive outburst off Yankees starter Shane Greene. That all changed for Webster in a horrendous top of the third inning. The rookie gave up four runs on just two hits to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Webster faced the entire New York order before being replaced by Burke Badenhop with two outs in the inning. Webster's biggest issue has been his command. He's walked 11 batters in eight combined innings this season. The Red Sox have had just six outings in which a pitcher has yielded five or more walks this year. Webster -- despite having made just two big league appearances this season -- is the only pitcher with two such games. The 24-year-old became the fourth Sox pitcher since 2000 to walk at least six batter in three or fewer innings. Each of the others was removed from the rotation after their off-the-rails outings: Clay Buchholz (8 walks in 3 innings in May) was placed on the disabled list; Daniel Bard (6 walks in 1 2/3 innings in 2012) was optioned to Triple-A and never made another start for the Red Sox, getting moved back to the bullpen; and Tomo Ohka (6 walks in 2 2/3 innings in 2001) was moved to the bullpen for an outing and then dealt to the Expos. -- After the three-run second inning, the Sox' bats were shut down for most of the duration by the Yankees' bullpen. The Red Sox scored just one run, collected just three hits and had five total baserunners over the final seven innings. New York pitchers combined for nine strikeouts for the game and seven over the final seven innings. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. is back in a slump after seemingly turning things around at the plate from mid-June to mid-July. The center fielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Saturday. He's now amidst an 0-for-20 stretch with 10 strikeouts and no walks, going hitless in the last five games and 3-for-31 in his last nine. WHAT WENT RIGHT -- Despite a cold bat, Bradley continued to impress in center field with another head-turning play in the first inning Saturday. With two on and no outs, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a short fly ball that Bradley had to charge in to catch. The rookie then doubled up Jeter -- who got caught in no man's land while unsure whether Bradley had the closing speed to get to the ball -- with a strike to first to get the second out. Bradley leads all major league outfielders with 13 assists for the year. Trailing him is fellow Sox outfielder Cespedes, who has 12. The throw also marked Bradley's eighth double play of the season. Entering Saturday, no other player had more than three double plays in 2014. -- Napoli was the only Red Sox starter to go hitless in Friday's 4-3 win. He atoned for that on Saturday with a two-run blast in the second inning. He had just two hits in last 18 at-bats prior to Saturday. He also walked in the third.