Yoenis Cespedes celebrates his sixth-inning, three-run homer Friday night. (Getty Images)

Closing time: Red Sox hit low point as Koji Uehara allows five runs in disastrous ninth inning

August 22, 2014 - 6:53 pm
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This isn't something Red Sox fans are used to seeing. In fact, it's not something they've ever seen from closer Koji Uehara. Only four times during his tenure as a member of the Red Sox has Uehara given up multiple runs in an outing. On Friday night, he came in to secure the save with the Red Sox on top 3-0. By the end of the inning, the Mariners took a 5-3 lead that they wouldn't relinquish. Prior to the defeat, the 2014 Red Sox were 44-0 when leading after eight innings. It was nothing short of a disastrous outing for Uehara, who allowed a total of five earned runs on five hits and a walk. It's the first time the closer has allowed more than three earned runs in an appearance as a reliever, and his first time allowing more than two runs in any appearance in a Red Sox uniform. Friday night was the third consecutive outing in which Uehara gave up runs, allowing a run on two hits in each of his last appearances. With the implosion, Uehara's ERA jumped from 1.53 entering the game to 2.28 by the time he left. Uehara was the only Red Sox pitcher to allow a run on the night for the Red Sox, a team that looked poised to beat Felix Hernandez and the Mariners upon entering the ninth inning. Yoenis Cespedes added some offense to what was a pitcher's duel initially, smacking a three-run home run off of Seattle starter Felix Hernandez in the sixth inning to break the scoreless tie. The shot, a high and deep drive over the Green Monster that left the park entirely, was Cespedes's 21st home run on the season and fourth since joining the Red Sox. Cespedes hasn't hit for a high average lately - he's batting just .200 over his last 14 games. But in that same span, he's been a RBI machine, knocking in 16 runs. His home run on Friday served as a perfect example of what kind of effect a deeper lineup can have for the Red Sox. Daniel Nava led off the inning with a base hit up the middle that he stretched into a double. A batter later, David Ortiz was intentionally walked to get to Cespedes. The presence of a bat like Cespedes's provides some protection for Ortiz, as illustrated by his go-ahead knock. The win was the Mariners' first since 2010 at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have now dropped six in a row. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX: - Allen Craig still has just one hit since joining the Red Sox, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk. - With an 0-for-4 night, Will Middlebrooks is hitting just .176 since rejoining the Red Sox at the beginning of the month with 13 strikeouts. - A scary scene ensued at Fenway when Xander Bogaerts was hit in the helmet by an 89 mile-per-hour changeup from Hernandez. Bogaerts stayed in the game and took his base, but he was pinch-hit for in his next at-bat. The Red Sox announced that he was removed from the game to be evaluated for a concussion. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX: - The Red Sox' pitching played just as crucial a role in Friday night's victory as Cespedes's homer, however. For five innings, Red Sox starter Joe Kelly went toe-to-toe with Hernandez. Kelly sailed through his first four frames showing excellent command, allowing just one hit and striking out four while issuing just one walk. His fastball was on, touching 97 on the Fenway radar gun and sitting in the mid-90's. The right-hander pitched himself into a jam in the fifth inning when he walked a pair and hit a batter to load the bases, needing 23 pitches to get through the inning, but ultimately escaped unscathed. In the midst of that unusual fifth inning, manager John Farrell and trainers came out to check on Kelly after an apparent injury; Kelly finished out the inning, but did not come back out for the sixth despite the scoreless tie. He'd thrown just 88 pitches. The Red Sox announced the pitcher was pulled from the game for what they called "precautionary reasons." Though Kelly lasted just five innings, he showed impressive command that had eluded him in his previous outings since coming over from the Cardinals. The righty did end up issuing three free passes on the night, but he exhibited great fastball command through the first four frames. Kelly had walked six in his previous outing, and hasn't walked less than three in any of his four starts for the Red Sox. After throwing just 53 percent of his pitches for strikes in his last outing, Kelly threw strikes 61 percent of the time on Friday, his highest strike percentage since joining the Red Sox. - Ortiz continues to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks on the evening. Since the Red Sox added Cespedes to their lineup on August 2, Ortiz has hit .385 with 11 walks and nine extra-base hits. For comparison, prior to the trade, Ortiz hit .250/.344/.497 in 105 games. - Other than Uehara's performance, the bullpen was impressive, allowing just one hit and three walks collectively. Craig Breslow was solid through 1 2/3 innings, while Tommy Layne continues to impress; he's allowed just one run in nine innings with the Red Sox this season.  

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