If the Red Sox get the kind of relief pitching they received Tuesday night from Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes (pictured), and Craig Kimbrel, then they might as well get prepared for an early playoff exit.
It would be hard to think of a single potential playoff opponent that wouldn't feast off this relief corps. And with Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi struggling of late, Brian Johnson rarely going past the fifth inning, and Chris Sale out for the foreseeable future, the bullpen stands to get a lot of use.
Photo courtesy of the Boston Herald
Hembree, Barnes and Kimbrel combined to allow the Miami Marlins - one of the worst teams in baseball - six runs over the final two innings in a game the Red Sox would ultimately win 8-7 on an error in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The pitching line of that bunch over the final two frames was six runs on seven hits (including two home runs off Barnes) and three walks.
Boston had what appeared to be a comfortable 4-1 lead heading into the eighth before Miami scored five times. The Sox rallied for three in the bottom of the inning on a two-out, two-RBI single by Jackie Bradley, Jr. and a wild pitch that allowed Ian Kinsler to score.
But after getting the leadoff batter in the ninth to line out to short, Kimbrel walked the next two and gave up a run-scoring single on a 1-2 pitch when he couldn't put Magneuris Sierra away.
After the game, manager Alex Cora said he wasn't really concerned about the bullpen but did admit, "Walks are getting up there now and a lot of three-one counts and two-strike hits...those aren't good."
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