Red Sox

First impressions: Red Sox bullpen implodes in 4-3 loss


First impressions: Red Sox bullpen implodes in 4-3 loss

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Toronto:

This one can be laid squarely at the feet of the bullpen.
With six outs to go, the Red Sox led 1-0, but Koji Uehara and then Craig Kimbrel lit the fuse with poor command -- made worse by some sloppy defense behind them.

Uehara, who had been terrific in his first seven outings, was unusually wild with two walks and a hit batsman in the span of five hitters.

Kimbrel came on with one out and the bases loaded and when he fanned Edwin Encarnacion, it seemed like he might get out of the inning without further damage. But with a full count, he walked Troy Tulowitzki on a pitch that was nowhere close to being a strike to force in one run, then gave up a two-run bloop single to Russell Martin.

The Sox had been 6-0 when leading after seven innings.

Carson Smith can't get here fast enough.
Through 12 games, Uehara has pitched in eight games and Junichi Tazawa seven. Together, they're the high-leverage set-up men for the seventh and eighth innings, When they're in the game, it's a sign the Red Sox lead in the late innings.

But Uehara is 41 and Tazawa has run out of gas in each of last two seasons, thanks to his workload. And Uehara was atypically wild today, with two walks and a hit batsman in one-third of an inning.

Smith was obtained last winter to give the Sox another dependable late-inning bullpen arm, and one capable of swings-and-misses. But a forearm strain forced him to the DL in spring training and while he's made progress in extended spring, he's still not appeared in a rehab game.

Clay Buchholz was particularly efficient in his start, relying on the double play to bail him out of what little trouble he encountered.
In 6 2/3 innings, Buchholz got the Jays to ground into four double plays, three of them from Jose Bautista. The last Red Sox starter to induce four GIDP in a game was Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008.

Buchholz didn't have overpowering stuff, with just two strikeouts along the way. But Toronto didn't have a lot of hard-hit balls against him and only 6 of the 20 outs he recorded were in the air.

Josh Rutledge's first at-bat of the season was a successful one.
After being promoted last Friday, Rutledge got the start at third and delivered a double to right-center, scoring Hanley Ramirez from second with the first -- and only -- Red Sox run of the afternoon.

Rutledge represents a nice right-handed bat off the bench, though he's somewhat limited defensively. Theoretically, he can play all four infield position, giving him versatility. But his throwing error in the top of the eighth, allowing the Jays to put the leadoff man in scoring position, was a reminder that he's limited in the field.

After everyone raved about Christian Vazquez's immediate impact on the staff Friday and Saturday, he had a decidedly off-day behind the plate Monday, committing two passed balls in a game for the first time in his career.
The first one was relatively harmless in the fifth inning, but the second helped result in the Jays scoring the tying run.

Kimbrel back in camp, but infant daughter on his mind

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Kimbrel back in camp, but infant daughter on his mind

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has returned to Fort Myers after spending the past three weeks in Boston, where his infant daughter Lydia has undergone multiple heart surgeries at Boston Children's Hospital.

On Monday, an emotional Kimbrel spoke to reporters in Florida, including The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman, about the ordeal after throwing a batting practice session.  

"We’ll be in and out of Boston Children’s Hospital the rest of her life but for this stay, hopefully, a couple more weeks," Kimbrel said. “She’s in the recovery process but life-threatening wise, she’s in a good place that I can be down here." 

Kimbrel said he and his wife Ashley "can't say enough about how amazing Boston Children's Hospital has been." 

"There's no denying it's been the toughest thing we've ever been through," Kimbrel said.  

"In the last week, her recovery has been unbelievable and she's showing great signs and we're very blessed and we want to thank the Red Sox and Alex [Cora] for understanding they've been through this and working with us," Kimbrel said. 

He said Lydia, born in November, will need another surgery when she's around 3 or 4 years old to help ensure normal development. 

"It's been tough, I can say that. We're definitely, me and my wife, we've had each other and we've had our family, we've had a great support. Everyone is sending out prayers that have definitely been heard. Now, I'm back down here. The other day I threw a live BP up at Babson [College in Wellesley, Mass.], and me and her got to talking and seeing where Lydia is, and how she's progressed, she's in a good, comfortable place for me to be down here. If she wasn't, I wouldn't be here.

"My family comes first and then baseball comes. I have to thank the Red Sox for letting me be there with my family and then helping me continue to prepare while I was at home. Stepping away for a few hours was definitely a release. It did help to get in the weight room. It did help to throw the ball. But that's not going to take away the emotions we went through in the hospital."

Kimbrel said he and his wife talked about how fortunate they were to be in Boston and its world-class healthcare facilities. 

"We believe that everything in life happens for a reason, even if we don't understand it at the time," he said. "There's a lesson to be learned and something to be shared through every step you go through in life. As difficult as this is, and I know it will take time, hopefully, this experience and everything we've been through, we can share that with others, try to impact someone else's life. Because I know for a fact my daughter's going to be able to do that one day."



Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

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Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fort Myers on Sunday after his 4-month-old daughter underwent successful heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Red Sox are confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.

“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” manager Alex Cora replied when asked if Kimbrel had time to get ready for the March 29 opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg. “With him it’s a different schedule, anyway. He’ll be ready.”

Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, was born with a heart defect. He left the team Feb. 28 to be with her and his family in Boston, but pitching coach Dana Levangie said Kimbrel was on a pitching program during that time.

“The most important thing is that the family is okay with [Kimbrel returning to the Sox],” Cora said. “If they’re okay with it, we’re okay with it.”