Red Sox fans have come to assume that when Koji Uehara goes into a game, he will come out unscathed. However, his past three appearances have been anything but that.
On Wednesday, against the Twins, Uehara was called upon in the tenth inning, after nine scoreless from John Lackey. After recording two outs, Chris Parmalee put a 1-2 pitch from Koji over the fence, ultimately setting up the heroics from Mike Napoli and David Ortiz. Koji ended up with the win ironically, but I am sure John Lackey wasn’t amused after “going the distance” and watching his team almost give away the game.
Saturday, in a 1-1 game in the tenth inning, Koji was called upon yet again after Edward Mujica put a man on second base. On the first pitch of his outing, old friend Coco Crisp laced a line drive to right field, driving in the game winning run in another game in which the Sox could have used a little more offense. While it wasn’t all Uehara’s fault, it is expected that he gets the final two outs in situations like that.
Sunday, in the series finale against the A’s, Koji had undoubtedly his worst outing of the season. With a 6-4 lead, two unlikely characters in Stephen Vogt and John Jaso both hit solo home runs to tie the game. This was his first blown save of the season, but he went on to pitch the tenth inning as well, eventually getting the win after Big Papi saved him once again.
With the offense still figuring things out, the pitching needs to be top notch if the Sox want to climb back in the standings. The starting pitching has done its job, so this would be the worst time for the bullpen to start scuffling. Although Koji has still had a brilliant season to follow up his ridiculous 2013 campaign, another poor outing may be a cause for concern.