The Boston Red Sox own the best record in baseball and are one of the most compelling stories in the major leagues this year.
But uncertainty in the ninth inning could spoil some of the fun.
Hours after closer Andrew Bailey landed on the disabled list with a right biceps strain, Boston’s original closer — right-hander Joel Hanrahan — exited Monday’s game against Minnesota with an injury, reportedly right forearm tightness. Hanrahan left the game two batters after surrendering a game-tying home run to Brian Dozier in the ninth inning (Boston ultimately prevailed, 6-5, in 11 innings).
If the Red Sox are without Bailey and Hanrahan for the short term, manager John Farrell can turn to veteran Koji Uehara in the ninth. Uehara is the lone reliever on the active roster with extended experience as a major league closer. He converted 13 of 15 save opportunities for Baltimore in 2010.
Uehara has one of the key characteristics of a successful closer: He rarely walks hitters. Uehara has issued zero unintentional walks in 13 2/3 innings this season.
The Red Sox have been careful with Uehara’s workload this season. He has yet to pitch on three consecutive days, so Farrell may need to have another closer in reserve until Hanrahan or Bailey returns.