BOSTON -- Richard Hembree delivered the pitch that had the biggest impact on Sunday's game, as Justin Upton lofted it for a grand slam that led the Tigers to an 8-3 win over the Red Sox.
But the reason Hembree had been called on by manager John Farrell to face Upton in that situation is because lefty starter Thomas Pomeranz was once again pitching with an uncomfortable amount of traffic.
When the Tigers loaded the bases with one out for Upton in the fifth, Farrell decided not to push his luck with Pomeranz any longer.
An inning earlier, Pomeranz had escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam, but he was up to 93 pitches by the time Upton stepped up, and five days earlier, Pomeranz had thrown 123 pitches in five innings.
Upton had already gone 2-for-2 against Pomeranz on Sunday, so it was hard to fault the decision by Farrell, even if it backfired.
"After a taxing five innings five days ago, a second consecutive inning with bases loaded, there was a chance to try to get a matchup. It didn't work out," said Farrell. "The five runs ends up being quite a difference tonight."
This was the eighth time in 12 starts this season that Pomeranz has gone fewer than six innings. He's only pitched seven innings once.
"It's pretty frustrating. You get into those situations, you get out of the first bases-loaded one, and then I get taken out the next bases-loaded one." Pomeranz said. "Obviously, I want to get out of all those situations and stay in there and stay in the game as long as I can. That's part of the game."
When the Red Sox acquired Pomeranz from the Padres last July, he had just finished an All-Star first half. Since coming to Boston, he has shown flashes of brilliance, but he hasn't been able to get on a sustained roll.
In 25 starts for the Red Sox, Pomeranz is 9-9 with a 4.58 ERA, and he has logged 127 2/3 innings. That averages out to fewer than 5 1/3 innings per start.
"It's a matter of just more consistent execution," said Farrell. "I don't have anything else to say but that. He's shown the ability to do it. I thought tonight his stuff might not have been as sharp, but still, he'd like to get into the second half of the game a little bit more regularly."
In this one, Pomeranz was down, 2-0, just two batters into the game, and 3-0 before the Red Sox even had an at-bat.
"It's pretty frustrating. I gave up the runs in the first inning. I had trouble trying to get my rhythm and timing down," said Pomeranz. "I went out there and tried to shut them down after that."
Pomeranz (6-4, 4.48 ERA) doesn't think he's far from where he needs to be.
"I've pitched pretty good. I think I won three straight coming into tonight," he said. "You're going to have games like that. You're going to have games where the ones they were catching before are falling in or just sneaking up the middle. You miss a pitch here and there. It's all about containing that."
What the Red Sox need Pomeranz to contain the most are his pitches per inning.