Farrell selective in bullpen use in loss to Tribe

Barnes used in place of Reed in effort to rest certain relievers

August 22nd, 2017
"I've got to be better than that," said Matt Barnes after facing two batters and not recording an out Monday. (AP)

CLEVELAND -- If this had been the postseason game the Red Sox envision playing at Progressive Field in six weeks, manager John Farrell would have managed his bullpen differently in what wound up a 5-4, walk-off loss to the Indians in Monday's opener of a four-game series.

But there are still 38 regular-season games left, and Farrell wants his bullpen sharp for the games that matter the most.

This is why didn't pitch on Monday night and Matt Barnes got the nod with a one-run lead on the road even though he has struggled away from Fenway Park for most of the season.

"Addison Reed was not available tonight, and [I] was trying to stay away from [] as well, given the workload the previous series, the stress to the pitches that they threw in the New York series, so we went to Barnes in the eighth," said Farrell. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out."

It is a balancing act for managers this time of year. The Red Sox, even with the loss, still have a 4 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.

"That's all factored in," said Farrell. "We do have a sense of urgency every day to close games out, but with [38] games to go, there are still health concerns and injury potential that has to be brought into this. So that's where the decision on who was available tonight come in."

Reed, who was acquired from the Mets on July 31 to be the guy in the eighth inning with the game on the line, threw 12 pitches in Sunday's win over the Yankees. But he threw 30 on Friday and had also pitched two days before that.

Farrell was hoping Barnes could step in and get the job done. But the righty walked leadoff man on five pitches. He then fell behind 2-0 on , and the outfielder smashed one to left for a single.

That was it for Barnes. Farrell called on , who struck out , but then gave up a game-tying single to .

"It sucks, honestly," said Barnes. "Close game late in the game when you put the leadoff guy on, and it tends to put you at an automatic disadvantage, especially to a guy who's got speed and in the middle of the order and a close game. I've got to be better than that."

It was the continuation of a wide disparity between the performance of Barnes at home (5-1, 1.95 ERA, eight walks in 32 1/3 innings) and the road (1-2, 5.53 ERA, 19 walks in 27 2/3 innings).

"Honestly, if I could tell you what it is right now, it probably wouldn't be happening. I don't know," said Barnes. "It's just one of those things which kind of happened this year. I'm going to move forward from today and what's happened in the past and work on it and get better at it and make the adjustment."

That adjustment, quite simply, needs to result in more strikes.

"It comes down to the leadoff walks in many cases," said Farrell. "In close ballgames, that's been the one thing that stands out the most. But on a night when not everyone's available, he's the one that has had the most experience in the eighth inning against both lefties and righties."

The night wasn't all bad for the bullpen. Joe Kelly did a nice job retiring four straight between the sixth and seventh. kept the game tied in the eighth with back-to-back strikeouts of and .

In the ninth, Farrell went to Workman instead of lights-out closer .

"This is a night where if I use Kimbrel tonight, he's got the need for one, if not two days off [after]. That's why you need the contributions from everyone," Farrell said.

Workman gave up a leadoff double to , but he lost the chance to get himself out of trouble when first baseman threw a sacrifice bunt away. Guyer roared around third for the game-ending run, and Barnes was left to feel even worse about his performance.

"That one's on me," Barnes said.