Breslow adds 2nd solid start to resume
Career reliever, 35, spins 5 1/3 innings as he faces free agency
CLEVELAND -- A week ago, it was a novelty that Craig Breslow was thrown into a start with less than 24 hours of notice. This time, the veteran lefty had time to prepare for starting a game for just the second time in his career, after making 522 appearances out of the bullpen.
It is unclear if this might be a part Breslow plays more often in the future, but he looks pretty comfortable in it. Though Breslow was on the short end of a pitchers' duel with Corey Kluber in a 2-0 loss Saturday night to the Indians, he did his job.
Over 5 1/3 innings and 66 pitches -- both career highs -- Breslow allowed two runs on solo homers. He scattered five hits and walked none while striking out two.
At the age of 35, it's doubtful Breslow will suddenly morph into a starter. Then again, you never know.
"I was kind of reluctant to label myself a starter after that first one," said Breslow, who tossed four scoreless innings against the Orioles last Saturday. "Going from a start, preparing and then having another start, I certainly can appreciate the routine and the structure. It was a lot of fun. Whereas last time I thought it was fun and it was a new experience, this time I at least had different expectations. I feel like it's something I could do."
A free agent again this winter, it certainly doesn't hurt Breslow's resume that he posted a 1.93 ERA over these two starts, serving as the front man in what the Red Sox labeled "bullpen games."
"I've had that conversation with my agents and my agents have had it with GMs, and it obviously never went anywhere," Breslow said. "If you can find vindication at 35 years old, maybe we have. Obviously the circumstances were pretty extraordinary for this to happen. It's something I enjoy doing. Now having done it a couple times, I feel like it's something I'd certainly be willing to explore."
For what the Red Sox needed on Saturday, Breslow gave it to them.
"He was great," said interim manager Torey Lovullo. "I think he did a good job. He had a bullpen start again, pitches into the sixth inning, gives up only a couple runs. I know they were just two mistakes that were home runs, and that was the difference in the game. But I think he did exactly what we wanted him to do. We wanted five, he gave us 5 1/3."
In hindsight, Breslow might have pleaded his case a little more with Lovullo to give him those two extra outs.
"I had set a goal for myself of trying to get through six innings," Breslow said. "Apparently I did not share that goal with the manager. I feel like pitching into the sixth inning in my second start is definitely an accomplishment I can be proud of. Unfortunately, we were on the losing side of things."
Between Breslow and Rich Hill, the Red Sox have had a couple of feel-good stories emerge in the rotation in recent weeks. Hill hadn't started in the Majors in six years and wound up throwing four straight quality starts.
"I was just joking with him a couple minutes ago, wondering how many teams are out there looking for comeback, feel-good stories. We might be competing with each other," Breslow said. "What he's done has been incredible. As a friend and as a teammate, it's been great to watch. He has some starting experience, so I was able to ask him how the transition could go easiest and what he would to do to prepare, because he wasn't a guy who was a starter his entire life like some of the other guys we have."
Going forward, Breslow is open to anything.
"If somebody wants me to play second base, I'll do that. That probably won't be here, but I think I can do it," quipped Breslow. "I felt comfortable the deeper I got into the game. Pitching out of the windup, I felt like I had a little bit better rhythm and a little more comfort. It's something I would definitely welcome if anybody was interested in giving it a shot."