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Koji, man with golden glove? You betcha

6/11/2014

BALTIMORE -- Koji Uehara’s command of the king’s English was not at play here. Sometimes he doesn’t wait for the translation before answering questions in interviews, so you know that he had no trouble understanding what catcher A.J. Pierzynski was yelling at him when Ryan Flaherty bunted the ball back to him in the ninth.

“I heard A.J. yell, ‘One, One, one,’’’ Uehara said after Boston’s 1-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday night.

With the play in front of him -- pinch hitter Steve Pearce was aboard on a leadoff single -- Pierzynski was urging Uehara to throw to first.

“I always err on the side of caution,’’ Pierzynski said. “You don’t want to let the guy get to second, and then you have first and second, no outs, and then they bunt him to third.’’

Uehara had other ideas.

“I felt like I could get the out at second,’’ he said. “I knew how fast the runner was going.’’

Watching from the dugout, what was Sox manager John Farrell thinking?

“Koji’s trusted in everything he does,’’ Farrell said. “His game awareness is outstanding.’’

Uehara whirled and threw a strike to shortstop Jonathan Herrera, who pumped his fist in the air as the throw just beat the sliding Pearce to the second-base bag.

“Thank God he got him out,’’ Pierzynski said. “I was just trying to get the out. Koji doesn’t give up a lot of hits, so I was just trying to get outs, but he wheeled and threw to second. It worked out perfectly.

“Koji being the savvy veteran he is, he made the right play.’’

With the Orioles denied the tying run in scoring position, Uehara went back to work, striking out Nick Markakis and Manny Machado to finish off his 13th save in 13 opportunities. He has made 16 straight scoreless appearances, allowing just seven hits while striking out 21. It didn’t faze him when Pierzynski was charged with an error when he failed to catch Markakis’s popup to the screen. Koji time waits for no man.

But when asked how much pride he takes in his fielding, Uehara smiled.

“It might be boasting a little bit,’’ he said, “but I won two Gold Gloves in Japan.’’