Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3
April, 3, 2014
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com
BALTIMORE -- Koji Uehara fudged a little bit, translator Shigenari Matsumoto said, when he tweeted out about his birthday Thursday. "He joked that he was 29," Matsumoto said.
Maybe in Koji Years, he's a decade younger. By the traditional Western calendar -- and Japanese calendar, for that matter -- Uehara turned 39. But come Koji Time, which appears eternal, who's really counting?
Uehara required just seven pitches in a perfect ninth inning Thursday for his first save of 2014 in Boston's 4-3 win over Baltimore in the rubber game of this opening three-game set.
Uehara struck out Jonathan Schoop on three pitches, then threw just two pitches apiece to Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis in inducing pop flies to third baseman Will Middlebrooks to finish off the Orioles.
Uehara, who also pitched an inning Wednesday night, had 21 saves last season for the Sox after taking over the closer's role in June. No pitcher has ever recorded his first 25-save season at the age of 39 or older, but judging how much Uehara likes to work, don't bet against him.
"He gives us the most comfortable inning you could possibly have," manager John Farrell has said on numerous occasions about his closer, who shocked his fan base Wednesday night by uncorking a wild pitch, only his fourth since coming to the majors in 2009.
Uehara's save completed what was a dominating series for the Sox bullpen, which was unscored upon in 7 2/3 innings in three games.
The Kids are All Right: Xander Bogaerts had three more singles, scored twice and reached base eight times in this series. Jackie Bradley Jr. had two singles, scoring from first when left fielder Nelson Cruz misplayed David Ortiz's pop fly, two-out single, and also drove in a run. Bradley, making his first start in center field in place of Grady Sizemore, who was given the night off, also made a nice running catch of Matt Wieters' line drive into the gap.
Middlebrooks chips in: Will Middlebrooks, who went without a hit in his first two games, doubled and singled and scored a run.
Doubront's the one: Left-hander Felix Doubront was charged with all three Orioles runs in 5 1/3 innings but was credited with the win in a battle of left-handers, Wei-Yin Chen taking the loss.