Matt Barnes recorded five crucial outs in the seventh and eighth innings of the Red Sox’ 6-3 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday to snap a nine-game losing streak. That being said, getting those five outs was no easy task.
Coming into the afternoon on three days rest, the right-hander was dispatched in the top of the seventh with his side up 4-3 and the tying run in scoring position for Philadelphia as the heart of Philadelphia’s order was due to hit.
Barnes got his first opponent, the vaunted Bryce Harper, to fan on four pitches, with the fourth pitch being a 1-2, 84 mph curveball down and in. He then got his next opponent, the ever-dangerous J.T. Realmuto, to whiff on another 2-2, 85 mph curveball below the strike zone.
“I was able to make some quality pitches that fortunately went my and the team’s way,” Barnes said during his postgame media availability. “It was definitely awesome.”
Impressive work there for sure, but Barnes’ job was not yet done, as he came on for a clean inning in the top of the eighth as well.
There, with his side now up 5-3, the 30-year-old again struck out another man in Phillies leadoff hitter Phil Gosselin, but he needed seven pitches to do so.
The next man up for Philadelphia, though, was by far Barnes’ toughest opponent and someone he had faced plenty of times before in ex-Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius.
In their first head-to-head matchup this season, Barnes got ahead in the count at 0-2, but proceeded to sprinkle in a ball every once in a while as Gregorius continued to foul off a plethora of pitches.
Fastball after fastball. Curveball after curveball. It did not matter for Gregorius, as he fouled off a total of nine pitches from Barnes, with the ninth and final one being followed by a ball four that was up and in.
When all was said and done, Gregorious had won this battle against Barnes and was awarded first base after an exhausting 14-pitch at-bat.
“It was 14 [pitches], huh?” Barnes said with a chuckle. “I mean, it’s a battle, man. It’s a battle. You got to just continually try to execute good pitches. I executed a decent 3-2 pitch, a fastball about a ball off [and] in. Credit to him for putting together an at-bat like that. It’s exhausting for not only me but him as well.”
Once again, Philly looked like they could be threatening as the tying run was now at the plate in Alec Bohm. Fortunately for Boston, Barnes, with the help of shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin, was able to extinguish that threat by getting the rookie third baseman to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
“In a two-run game, one wrong pitch could be a two-run homer and we’re in a totally different spot in the game,” the UCONN product added. “I was able to make a quality pitch. I got to the 3-2 count to Bohm and wanted to throw a quality breaking ball in the zone to him. He put a decent swing on it, fortunately Lin made a great play with the backhand and him and [Jose] Peraza were able to turn the double play for us.”
The Red Sox went on to top the Phillies by a final score of 6-3 following a scoreless ninth inning from Brandon Workman, and Barnes, despite needing 38 pitches to do so, took home his fourth hold of the season as a result.