Koji Uehara

Day games clouding Koji Uehara's optimism

Rob Bradford
June 30, 2015 - 9:58 pm

TORONTO -- Koji Uehara is cruising. With his third save in as many days, Tuesday, the Red Sox closer is 18 for 20 in save opportunities this season with a 2.89 ERA. In his last five outings, Uehara has allowed just one baserunner, averaging just 12.6 pitches per inning. So, what keeps him up at night? Having to pitch early in the day. "I think the games that I have pitched well are night games, not day games," Uehara said through a translator when asked what has been key in his recent run. "I think that'€™s the only difference. I think my ERA shows I pitch better in night games." The logical follow-up: Why? "Because I'm old," he said. "Older guys need to sleep in." All joking aside, the difference in results has been of some concern for the 40 year old. He has allowed 10 runs on 13 hits over 8 2/3 innings during his 10 appearances in day games, compared to just three runs on nine hits over 19 1/3 frames at night. "What I'€™m figuring could be in the sunlight can see better and that'€™s why I'€™m getting hit a little bit more in day games. That'€™s the only reasoning I can think of," Uehara surmised. "Also the fact that my body is not awakened as night games." It's an issue that isn't lost on Uehara's pitching coach, Carl Willis. "That's where the communication comes in, and the trust factor," Willis noted. "It's good to hear him say that because you don't want that false positivity when you're not 100 percent, or you are dragging that day. We need to know those things. "It's more difficult [when you're older]. But I think in his case he does everything he can to combat that. He's very routine oriented and understands what he needs to do. But there are times you can't avoid it, either." The Red Sox and Uehara almost certainly won't get a chance to see if the trend can be reversed during Wednesday's day game considering he has worked three straight days. But perhaps the reliever can find his payoff this weekend at Fenway, when the Red Sox play back-to-back day games. "There are a couple of things that I've tried," Uehara said.