Five Takes: Red Sox bullpen spoils another Chris Sale start

AP photoBoston Red Sox relief pitcher Matt Barnes walks back to the mound after giving up a two-RBI single to Nomar Mazara during the ninth inning.

BOSTON — Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier are supposed to be Alex Cora’s two most reliable relievers. 

But their fingerprints were all over last night’s loss, as each hard-throwing right-hander struggled in the series opener against Texas. Barnes blew a save in the ninth, and then Brasier gave up the dagger in the 11th as Boston fell, 4-3.

Here are five takes from another game the Red Sox let slip away: 

1. Barnes blows it first

With a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Red Sox were three outs away from a crisp victory. 

In the midst of a midseason regression, Barnes allowed three straight hits and the lead turned into a deficit very quickly.  It was the fifth time he’s allowed a run in his last nine appearances. 

2. Brasier still can’t find command

It’s one thing if opponents are hitting good pitches, but Brasier is struggling to hit his catcher’s mitt with consistency. 

The reliever gave up back-to-back hits in the 11th, and both were on fastballs right down the heart of the plate. That’s not where Christian Vazquez was calling for either. It’s been a troubling trend with no easy solution. 

3. Good Brock then Bad Brock 

If you’re a glass-half-full thinker, Brock Holt tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a clutch RBI single blooped into center field. 

If you prefer to see your glass half empty, moments later Holt ran through acting third base coach Andy Barkett’s stop sign and it wasn’t wise. Holt was out by roughly 20 feet — he wasn’t in the screen yet when the catcher caught the ball on the television broadcast — and the game went to extra innings. 

4. No W for Sale

If you’re wondering why the pitcher wins stat is becoming antiquated, look no further than Chris Sale.

The Red Sox ace pitched very well. Again. He didn’t pick up the win. Again.

Sale spun seven innings of one-run ball, striking out 10 and only allowing three hits, but had nothing to show for it. It was the sixth time Sale (2-7) has thrown a quality start this season and not gotten the win. 

5. Benny hits a bomb... in the first?

In a plot twist, Andrew Benintendi’s best inning was the first. The left fielder got the Sox on the board early with a two-run bomb that was croaked into the Monster Seats. 

Prior to last night’s game, Benintendi was hitting .106 with only one double and no homers in 55 first-inning plate appearances. 

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason