Ogando records ‘huge' outs in high-pressure spot vs. Jays


TORONTO -- Eduardo Rodriguez got the win and Koji Uehara got the save.

But the most important pitches in the Red Sox' 4-3 win over Toronto Tuesday night might have been thrown by set-up man Alexi Ogando.

After Rodriguez exited following six strong innings, Tommy Layne retired two of the first three hitters, but gave up a two-run homer to Jose Reyes in the seventh to bring the Blue Jays back to within a run, the Sox turned to Ogando.

First, he got Josh Donaldson, the Jays' best hitter, on a sharp grounder up the middle on which Brock Holt made a nice diving stop and strong throw to first for the final out of the inning.

Next, Ogando retired Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion on routine groundouts to third before fanning Chris Colabello.

Four batters faced -- the second, third, fourth and fifth hitters in the league's highest-scoring lineup -- and four outs recorded.

"They were huge,'' gushed manager John Farrell. "We were hitter-to-hitter at that point. After they cut it to one, going through the middle of that
order was not an easy task. He's been throwing the ball just outstanding for us.''

Indeed, Ogando is unscored upon in his last 11 appearances, covering 11 2/3 inning, during which time opposing hitters are batting just .132 (5-for-38).

"I definitely don't feel any fear whenever I go out there,'' said Ogando. "I feel confident and just feel like I'm going out there to do my job. There's really no sense of fear there.''

That applied Tuesday, despite facing Toronto's four best hitters in succession, with little margin for error.

"I'm obviously aware they're good hitters and they've been hot recently,'' Ogando said. "But I thought it was important to not put (the ball) where they want it and try to command the fastball away, especially low and away and have set up the slider, too, since they play off each other.

"There was definitely an approach to get out in front, especially with the fastball down and away.''

The Sox were naturally reluctant to go with Junichi Tazawa in that spot, since the Jays have traditionally hammered him. And going to another lefty like Craig Breslow or Robbie Ross Jr. would have been a poor matchup against four strong righty hitters.

So Ogando earned the trust of Farrell and then showed that it was well-placed.

"It's not really something I think about that much,'' said Ogando of the high-leverage spot. "I just go out there and do my job, in whatever role or situation. I just try to get out there and do my job and execute my pitches. I feel like I'm prepared for anything, for any (role) they want to throw me into.''

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