The Boston Red Sox lost 4-3 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Marathon Monday. Setup man Koji Uehara was not his usual self as he took the loss, but new Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was more of a concern. Is he losing his command or was just feeling the pressure?
Uehara allowed the tying run after an infield single, two walks and a hit batter while recording just one out in the eighth inning. He left the game with the bases loaded and the ball was handed to Kimbrel, who is one of the best closers in MLB today.
It was not a save situation, but he was put in the game to keep the tie and give his team the chance to take the lead in the next inning. After striking out Edwin Encarnacion for the second out of the eight, he issued a walk to Troy Tulowitzki to give the Blue Jays a 2-1, per ESPN.
Kimbrel was up 1-2 in the count, but he issued pitched three straight balls with the last one nowhere near the strike zone. He then allowed a single to Russell Martin to give Toronto the 4-1 lead.
Even though Kimbrel was not credited for any earned runs, he’s still under the microscope of many Boston Red Sox fans since the ball will be in his hands in many close games this season. Uehara is expected to bounce back but questions will surround Kimbrel’s command issues or how will he respond to pressure.
According to Mass Live, the 27-year-old pitcher has increased his velocity since coming into the league in 2011, but at the cost of his command. His career average walks per inning is 3.4, which is too high for a closer. He’s already four walks in six innings this early in the season.
As for the pressure, the Boston Red Sox is known for its diehard fans and unforgiving media unlike his previous teams, the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. The city expects nothing less from one of the considered best closers in baseball.
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