Matt Barnes

Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports

Indians 5, Red Sox 4: Matt Barnes, bullpen let Red Sox down in defeat

John Tomase
August 21, 2017 - 10:54 pm

With Rafael Devers shoring up third base, Eduardo Nunez providing desperately needed production in relief of the injured Dustin Pedroia, and Chris Sale rolling towards a possible Cy Young-MVP double, there's really only one group that can sink the Red Sox this October.

Stop me if you've heard this one before -- the bullpen.

Despite owning one of the best relief ERAs in baseball virtually since Opening Day, the Red Sox remain far from a sure thing in the seventh and eighth innings before handing the ball to Craig Kimbrel.

Those difficulties were on display on Monday against the Indians. Staked to a 4-3 lead in the eighth, setup man Matt Barnes continued a general second-half slide that has been particularly glaring on the road, and then the Indians won it in the ninth against Brandon Workman on a walk-off error by first baseman Brock Holt in a 5-4 defeat.

Barnes will be the focus of this one. He allowed a walk and hit before being lifted for right-hander Heath Hembree, who struck out the dangerous Jose Ramirez before allowing the tying single to Edwin Encarnacion. Left-hander Robby Scott struck out Jay Bruce and Bradley Zimmer to keep things tied.

The numbers away from Fenway on Barnes are horrific. He owns a 1.95 ERA and 41-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio at home, but a 5.53 ERA and 25-19 K-BB on the road.

With right-hander Addison Reed and Kimbrel each having worked two of the previous three games, manager John Farrell had few options once right-hander Joe Kelly finished the sixth and tossed a scoreless seventh.

With the top of the Indians order due, Farrell wanted leadoff man Francisco Lindor batting left-handed, where he's a .240 hitter. His options were Barnes, Hembree, and Brandon Workman.

Farrell chose Barnes on track record, but he may not be doing so for much longer.

Workman would be one candidate for more work, but after allowing a leadoff double to Brandon Guyer in the ninth, he watched the winning run score when Roberto Perez laid down a sacrific bunt attempt that Holt threw away after double-clutching towards first base.

The Red Sox, last in the American League in homers, scored all of their runs on two-run homers by Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez. They also

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