Red Sox

‘I mean, we’re concerned’: Matt Barnes’s struggles continue even as Red Sox beat Twins

Matt Barnes
Boston Red Sox's Matt Barnes walks off the field after the Red Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Red Sox closer Matt Barnes continued his recent struggles on Tuesday, even as the team claimed an important 11-9 victory over the Twins.

The Red Sox absolutely refused to win Tuesday’s game comfortably, even after Kiké Hernández hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth that tacked on a pair of insurance runs. After surrendering a homer and a pair of walks to start the ninth, Barnes was pulled in favor of Hansel Robles, who closed the game as Barnes cheered from the top step of the dugout.

“I can be pissed at myself later, I can be selfish and slam stuff or go back to my apartment and be pissed off and worry about all that nonsense later,” Barnes said after the game. “Most important thing in that moment is to be a good teammate to Robles. He’s coming in, he’s trying to clean up my mess. My sole job there is to cheer him on as loud as I can.”

Barnes’s attitude is admirable, but his performance has been less so. His spin rate and velocity were both down on Tuesday. He threw just 12 pitches en route to a pair of walks and a homer, and he has a 7.84 ERA since the All-Star break as well as a catastrophic 15.19 ERA in eight August appearances.

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“I mean, we’re concerned. Yeah we are,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora admitted. “We have to make adjustments, whatever it is. We’ve been talking about it. 

“Yesterday we went to certain guys in certain situations. Today we did the same thing. At the end of the day, it’s about winning ball games, it’s not about saves or Ws. It’s the Red Sox win or the Red Sox lose, and tonight we won again.”

Barnes agreed, although he said the word “frustrating” is “probably a bit of an understatement. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me.”

“The biggest takeaway from tonight, Robles picked me up, picked the guys up, offense was incredible tonight, guys put a ton of quality at-bats today, at the end of the day, we just have to have to win ball games right now, plain and simple,” Barnes said. “I picked a bad time to start sucking, but it’s about winning ball games.”

Barnes said he would sit down with Cora and Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush to plot next moves, adding that if the team needed him to step out of the closer role for the time being, he would understand.

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However: “We’re going to get this right,” he added. “Make no mistake this is going to get fixed, and I’m going to go back to being exactly what I was three weeks ago. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind about that.”

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