Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Uehara finishes off Rockies sweep
By Kyle Brasseur
BOSTON -- The Koji Uehara era at closer has officially begun.
Five days after being named closer by manager John Farrell following another late-inning implosion from Andrew Bailey, Uehara nailed down his first save in his new role in the Boston Red Sox 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.
Koji Uehara celebrates his first save for the Red Sox with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
"The pressure and the stress is always the same wherever I pitch, so nothing different," Uehara said after his outing. "My approach was the same, so no different feeling at all."
Uehara breezed through the ninth inning, striking out two while retiring the side in order on 13 pitches to earn his second save of the season.
"Much like we've seen him in other seventh- or eighth-inning roles, he's going to throw strikes and he's not going to beat himself," Farrell said.
Since his last rough outing against the Los Angeles Angels on June 9, Uehara has been dominant, striking out 10 and allowing only one hit in 6⅔ innings pitched. The right-hander has allowed only seven runs in 30 innings pitched this season.
This isn't the first time Uehara has held a full-time closer role, either. In 2010 with Baltimore, his first full season as a reliever, Uehara converted 13 of 15 save opportunities after being named the team's closer in late August.
Of course, the Red Sox have been no stranger to changes at the closer position this season. Uehara represents the fourth option that the Sox have turned to in the ninth inning, with Joel Hanrahan, Junichi Tazawa and Bailey all taking a crack at holding down late leads.
However, the 38-year-old Japanese pitcher has no interest in putting a title on his workload. For Uehara, there is only one thing on his mind each time he goes out to pitch.
"The only goal that I have is to just continue pitching in the majors," the 38-year-old said. "I'm old, so I don't have to think about the future. I just concentrate on what is in front of me."