PHOENIX — The Red Sox lost Saturday’s game with their best reliever warming up in the bullpen.
But that’s the way manager Alex Cora intends to use his bullpen, with the best pitchers being saved for what he perceives as the highest leverage situations.
In Cora’s mind, the ninth inning of a tie game in the Red Sox’ eventual 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks on Saturday was not the spot for Matt Barnes, who was warming in the ‘pen but never entered.
Instead, it was Colten Brewer who took over in a 4-4 game to face the No. 5 spot in the lineup, where the Diamondbacks had the pitcher due up but pinch-hit with Alex Avila.
Avila struck out, then Eduardo Escobar, Nick Ahmed and Carson Kelly hit three straight singles to walk off on the Sox.
“Where they were in the lineup, the way that Brewer has been throwing the ball, we liked him there,” Cora said. “We felt the matchups were good for us. It just didn’t work out.”
Brewer said the strikeout to Avila put him in a good spot.
“I thought there were some good pitches in there,” he said. “They were ready for them I think. I was just trying to get a ground ball and get out of the inning, maybe weak contact, maybe a swing-and-miss. Ended up shooting it through the left field for the walkoff.”
Betts threw out Escobar at home on the single by Ahmed for his second outfield assist on the season, but Ahmed advanced to second on the throw, then scored on the hit by Kelly.
Brewer entered the game with a 0.00 ERA and just one hit in three innings while collecting six strikeouts and four walks. The Sox like his ability to spin a curveball and throw a mid-90s fastball.
Barnes has pitched just twice in 10 games so far, allowing just one baserunner while striking out four.