BOSTON — The Red Sox acquisition of Craig Breslow didn’t look too significant at the time. Boston was one game over .500 and 8.5 games out of first in the AL East when the trade happened July 31, 2012.
But in retrospect, it was the first real move GM Ben Cherington made in building this season’s roster. After all, Breslow was signed through 2013 and Cherington later extended the lefty’s contract through 2014 with a $4 million team option or $100,000 buyout for 2015.
Breslow has been invaluable to this year’s bullpen — and nearly as important as Koji Uehara.
The southpaw has provided the consistent reliability during the late innings that this team has drastically needed because of season-ending injuries to Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan.
Breslow did so again last night here at Fenway Park. He came into a 2-2 tie with two Baltimore Orioles in scoring position and no outs in the eighth inning. He bailed Boston out of the jam without allowing any runs.
He retired AL MVP-candidate Chris Davis, a lefty, and Adam Jones, a righty, both on ground outs to shortstop with the infield drawn in. He then got Nick Markakis, a lefty, to fly out to left field.
But the Red Sox lost 3-2 as Uehara’s streaks of 37 consecutive batters retired and 27 straight scoreless outings both ended in the ninth.
Breslow has a 1.93 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 14 holds and only one blown save.
Since the All-Star Break, he has a brilliant 0.75 ERA. He’s one of the many big reasons why this Red Sox team is in a position to clinch the AL East this week. The magic number is at 3 with Tampa losing yesterday.
Breslow — who is a Yale graduate — was honored before yesterday’s game for being Boston’s nominee for this year’s Roberto Clemente Award.