Uehara a master of the end-game for Red Sox

Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:56pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

BOSTON (Reuters) - He came to the Boston Red Sox as an efficient set-up man for the bullpen, yet Koji Uehara has emerged as an end-game master for the American League champions, who are seeking their third World Series title in 10 seasons.

The Japanese pitcher with the devastating splitter was given a rare night off on Wednesday when the Red Sox breezed to an 8-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the series opener, but a well-rested Uehara could translate into an even bigger edge.

The 38-year-old Uehara, a strike-throwing machine, saved three games, including four-out and five-out saves, and posted a win in earning Most Valuable Player honors in Boston's league championship series triumph over the Detroit Tigers.

Uehara threw six shutout innings in all against Detroit, striking out nine without walking a batter.

The Cardinals could have their hands full as Game One winners in the best-of-seven Fall Classic have gone on to win nine of the last 10 World Series.

Uehara thrives with a fastball that strains to reach 90 miles an hour, a tortoise compared to rifle-armed closers, but those that see him day in, day out marvel at his ability.

Boston manager John Farrell, a former major league pitcher and one-time pitching coach for the Red Sox, said: "I sit there and think the guy has got like a sixth sense. He has such a feel for what the hitter is looking for and if they're going to swing. It's uncanny."

Boston back-up catcher David Ross said: "We say he's a Ninja. He just knows."   Continued...

Oct 22, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara (19) throws a pitch during workouts the day before game one of the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports