They all faced a gut-check moment. From Chris Capuano to Edward Mujica, all four relievers the Red Sox summoned from their bullpen in Sunday night’s rousing 6-5 walkoff victory over the Orioles were called upon to deliver in high-leverage situations.
They did not disappoint, as they combined for 3⅓ scoreless innings to piece together a victory that went to Mujica and got Jake Peavy off the hook after the Sox righthanded starter gave up five runs on 10 hits and four walks (one intentional).
“From Capuano all the way through to Mujica, big pitches in key spots with men on,’’ said manager John Farrell, whose bullpen held the Orioles to two hits. “They were swinging the bats very well across the way and we made a number of big pitches here tonight.’’
Boston’s bullpen has allowed just four earned runs in 29 innings over the team’s last 10 games (1.24 ERA). Overall this season Sox relievers have combined for a 2.30 ERA (15 earned runs over 58⅔ innings).
“It’s always feels good as a bullpen when everyone kind of does their job,’’ said Capuano, who worked 1⅔ innings and is unscored upon in eight outings (10⅔ innings). “You know, it’s satisfying to be able to make those pitches. You have to put that one behind you and you come back and try to execute every day.’’
Capuano was called on in the sixth to relieve Peavy and face Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, a dangerous .321 hitter, with two outs and two men aboard. Wieters had produced an RBI single in the first.
Capuano worked quickly and got ahead in the count, needing all of four pitches to induce Wieters to hit a soft fly to right field on a 77-mile-per-hour changeup.
“I made a good pitch to Wieters, down and away, and I thought it was a sure hit to right field,’’ Capuano said. “But [Daniel] Nava did a great job of coming in and staying with it and making a good catch, so that was a real big play.’’
After he allowed No. 9 hitter Ryan Flaherty to reach on a leadoff single to left in the eighth, Capuano bore down and made a tough 3-and-2 pitch to strike out Nick Markakis. Junichi Tazawa entered in relief of Capuano and got a huge first-pitch popup against Nelson Cruz, who had hit a first-pitch solo homer off Peavy in the first inning.
Andrew Miller then relieved Tazawa and worked quickly to Chris Davis, striking him out on an 86-mile-per-hour slider.
“That was a great inning of execution from everybody there,’’ Capuano said.
After Adam Jones laced a leadoff double to left leading off the ninth, Miller retired the next two batters on ground outs, Wieters to second (which advanced Jones to third) and Steve Lombardozzi to the mound.
With the Orioles looking like they were going to have righthanded batter Delmon Young hit for the lefthanded-hitting David Lough, Farrell admittedly jumped the gun and summoned Mujica, a righty, from the pen.
“I was probably a little bit premature in the move, but as it turns out, we keep a .135 hitter in the game versus a guy in Young who is somewhere in the .350 range,’’ Farrell said. “And Eddie makes a couple of big pitches with his split-finger and he gets a key strikeout.’’
Mujica needed just four pitches to fan Lough and get the Sox into the bottom of the ninth. It resulted in a stirring win that punctuated an emotional pregame ceremony recognizing the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“We’ve had a lot of these emotional days and it’s always nice when you give your fans something to cheer about,’’ Miller said. “If we can do anything on the baseball field to make people . . . forget?
“No, because a lot of people were so dramatically affected by this. Anything we can do for this city in general, to lift people up and let people cheer, I think it’s pretty awesome. Exciting wins like this, they don’t get any better than that for the fans.’’
Or the bullpen.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.