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Sports

September 2, 2013

Bailey: Without Uehara, who knows where Sox would be?

(Continued)

He has a personal major league career-high scoreless streak of 24.0 innings over his past 21 outings beginning July 9. He has allowed just seven runners during this stretch, showing that he is the furthest thing in baseball from a heart attack closer.

He has an eye-popping 1.17 ERA and 0.62 WHIP in 61.1 innings. He has had seven appearances of more than an inning. He has 83 strikeouts to nine walks.

“He’s been dominant all year,” Bailey said of Uehara, whom Boston signed this past offseason. “He’s definitely picked us up and really carried us for some time. If you look at his career numbers, they’re pretty much just as good as what he’s doing now.”

Uehara, who spent some time as a closer in 2010 with Baltimore, has a career 2.51 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. His ability to consistently throw strikes and limit base runners is what has made him so successful since leaving Japan to become a major leaguer with the Orioles in 2009.

“It’s phenomenal and to be so consistent, especially changing some roles, he’s been a lockdown closer and arguably one of the best relievers in baseball,” Bailey said.

Uehara doesn’t have a blazing fastball. Actually, it had averaged at just 89.2 mph this year entering yesterday, according to fangraphs.com.

“He’s got a lot of deception and his splitter is probably one of the best pitches in baseball this year,” Bailey said. “You look at how many swings and misses he gets on fastballs, (it’s because) guys are looking for the splitter in certain counts and he knows what he’s doing.”

Uehara’s two main pitches are the fastball and splitter. He has thrown the fastball 46.6 percent of the time and his split-finger 46.9 percent of the time this summer.

Uehara entered yesterday first among AL relievers in ERA, WHIP, strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.1) and lowest average walks per nine innings (1.4). Of his 61 appearances this year, 54 have been scoreless.

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