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Closing Time: Koji Uehara’s epic streaks stopped as Red Sox fall to Orioles

09.17.13 at 10:21 pm ET
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And so, he is human.

Koji Uehara saw his dazzling streak of 37 straight batters retired come to an end, as former Red Sox infielder Danny Valencia jumped on a 90 mph fastball that caught too much of the plate and sent a rocket to center that eluded Shane Victorino for a triple to lead off the ninth. Catcher Matt Wieters then followed with a sac fly, resulting in the first run Uehara had permitted since June 30 — ending the longest scoreless streak (30 1/3 innings) by any Red Sox reliever in 50 years, since Dick Radatz had a 33-inning run in 1963.

As a result, the Red Sox fell to the Orioles, 3-2. Their opportunity to lock up a postseason berth will have to wait at least another day, though the team’s magic number in the division was whittled to three with the Rays’ loss to the Rangers.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox had few opportunities with runners in scoring position and failed to capitalize when they did, going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. The costliest failure came in the bottom of the fourth, when Dustin Pedroia‘s smash to third with runners on the corners and one out precipitated an inning-ending double play.

David Ortiz went 0-for-4 with two punchouts, including one against longtime nemesis Brian Matusz. Ortiz is now 1-for-20 with a double and 12 strikeouts against Matusz.

– On a night when Scott Feldman issued six walks, the Red Sox could not capitalize, collecting just two hits in five innings against the right-hander.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox stole three bases in as many attempts (assisted by a whiff on a tag by third baseman Manny Machado, who simply failed to apply his glove to a sliding Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a double steal, despite the fact that catcher Matt Wieters‘ throw beat the runner by a significant margin), running their streak of consecutive successful stolen bases to 35 in a row — the longest such run since the 1993 Blue Jays stole 38 straight bases. On the year, the Sox now have an 86.2 percent stolen base success rate, the highest recorded rate in American League history.

Craig Breslow turned in a tremendous performance out of the bullpen. The left-hander was entrusted with a second-and-third, no-out situation in the top of the eighth inning and promptly stranded both runners while retiring three batters on six pitches, getting a pair of groundouts to short (where Stephen Drew was playing in, preventing the runner on third from scoring) and a flyout. His ERA is now 1.94, in a year where he has 4.98 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s the fourth pitcher since 2000 with a sub-2.00 ERA despite striking out fewer than five batters per nine innings (min. 50 innings).

Dustin Pedroia unloaded on a meatball from Scott Feldman to lead off the bottom of the first for the Red Sox, sending his ninth homer of the year screaming over the Wall in left. The longball marked the second time in Pedroia’s career that he led off in the first inning with a homer; the previous instance came on Sept. 23, 2006, when he went deep off of A.J. Burnett for his second big league homer. It was the Sox’ third homer by their first batter of the game in 2013; the previous two were both launched by Jacoby Ellsbury.

Mike Carp continued his season-long ability to deliver instant offense, lining an opposite-field double down the left-field line in his first plate appearance. The 27-year-old now has 28 extra-base hits in 222 plate appearances this year, an average of one multi-base hit for every 7.9 plate appearances. The others who have been on that list in Red Sox history (min. 200 plate appearances):

Yrs From To Age
David Ortiz 4 2003 2012 27-36
Ted Williams 2 1939 1950 20-31
Jimmie Foxx 2 1938 1939 30-31
Babe Ruth 2 1918 1919 23-24
Manny Ramirez 1 2004 2004 32-32
Nomar Garciaparra 1 2000 2000 26-26
Brian Daubach 1 1999 1999 27-27
Reggie Jefferson 1 1996 1996 27-27
Fred Lynn 1 1979 1979 27-27
Earl Webb 1 1931 1931 33-33

Ryan Dempster was dominant at times but saw his location betray him late, as he walked three batters in his final two innings. Still, he logged six innings in which he allowed just two runs on three hits (including a solo homer by Chris Davis, the Baltimore first baseman’s 51st of the year) while punching out five. It was his 14th quality start of the year in 29 starts. However, he walked four batters, the eighth time in 2013 that he’s reached that plateau — tied for the fourth most such outings in the majors this year.

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