None of Joel Hanrahan’s outings, not even his save in the Red Sox’s home opener earlier this week, have been entirely pretty. He gave up a home run to Adam Jones that wound up being inconsequential in his first outing but foreshadowed the appearances he had ahead of him.
In the past two games, he’s allowed nine of the 14 batters he’s faced to reach base. After unraveling Wednesday in a blown save against the Orioles, Hanrahan came out in the ninth inning of a tie game today against the Rays and failed to record an out, walking the first two batters he saw (Evan Longoria on four pitches) before getting the hook.
Jokingly, he suggested the temperature was the issue. In seriousness, he pointed to issues with his delivery that he said he and pitching coach Juan Nieves had pinpointed the issue.
“I’m fighting some things with mechanics in my legs. It’s just something I’ve got to work on. I guess I’m more of a warm-weather guy, I don’t know. But it’s just something we’ve got to fight through.
“It’s something he did point out, but it’s kind of obvious. If you look at where I’m missing the whole time, you know something’s not right and we’ve got to fix it.
“I hope it’s going to be pretty easy. I think Juan’s kind of got it pinpointed out and then it’s just finding the time to get out there and fix it.”
With the game in the balance, Sox manager John Farrell didn’t hesitate to bring in Koji Uehara after Hanrahan’s free passes.
“Today, it was clear he was looking to command the ball down and away to the right-handers,” Farrell said. “With Longoria he missed a couple of times obviously for the walk. I thought he regrouped a little bit after the first ball to [Ben] Zobrist, got back in the count. Looked like he’s on his way in that situation. But after the 3-2 base on balls, felt like it was time to make a move right there.
“He’s pitching in some tight spots and I know that’s the life of a closer. But at that point it was time to make a move.”
Farrell said that right now he isn’t considering going another direction with the closer role.
“No move’s going to be made,” Farrell said. “That’s a situation that the closer comes in, tie game at home. But after the two leadoff walks we felt like we had someone behind him ready to go in Koji.
“Right now Joel’s going through a little bit of a spell where things aren’t clicking for him. But we’re still with him. We’ve got a guy today [who] picked him up in Koji and did one heck of a job to shut off that threat in the ninth.”
For his part, Hanrahan said he wasn’t worried about the recent struggles and needed to simply get back to throwing strikes and getting outs.
“Obviously, it’s not the way I wanted it to go,” Hanrahan said. “But we’re still winning games. Our bullpen picked us up today and that’s what makes a good bullpen.”