The premium placed on closers assumes that not all three outs are created equal. A reliever asked to hold a lead or preserve a close deficit in the eighth inning doesn’t carry the same weight as coming into the ninth to preserve a win. It’s a train of thought on which the closer position exists. But for Koji Uehara, his success in taking the role for the Red Sox the last two outings is due at least in part to discarding that notion. The 38-year-old’s attitude seems to be that three outs are just three outs, an inning just an inning. Set them up, sit them down, with the only difference being a slightly more muted celebration down the handshake line than his fired-up, high-fiving assault in the dugout. “I feel (like I want) to do the same thing, but since the game is over, I can’t do it,” he said through a translator. But before and during the appearance, nothing changes in Uehara’s mind. “The approach itself doesn’t change at all,” Sox manager John Farrell said after last night’s 7-4 victory against Toronto, the team’s third straight to start a nine-game homestand. “Regardless of whether it’s the ninth, the sixth or whatever inning (Uehara’s) pitching, he doesn’t change his approach and he has a pitch to get himself back into a given count.” Last night’s ninth was the second of back-to-back perfect outings for Uehara, each including two strikeouts, since replacing Andrew Bailey last week. Although the Red Sox have closely monitored Uehara’s workload — last night was just the seventh time this season he’s pitched on back-to-back days — he’s proven he can handle it. In 35 MLB appearances on zero days rest, he’s not been charged a run.
Another perfect ninth for Koji Uehara
Boston Herald | Jun 28