When he surrendered a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning of a 10-5 loss against the Los Angeles Angels last Wednesday at Fenway Park, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes didn’t hold back on his performance.
“A lot of that probably falls on me,” Barnes said afterward. “I’ve been terrible. I mean, let’s just call a spade a spade, right? So I’ve got to figure my [expletive] out. And we’re going to get there. I mean, I’m working on it every day and feeling better every day. The results are terrible, but we’re not going to stop. It’s definitely frustrating.”
Prior to signing his two-year, $18.75 million contract, Barnes averaged 15.1 strikeouts per nine innings, posted a 2.68 ERA to go along with a 0.86 WHIP through July 10.
In the 33 games since, including that hideous loss to the Angels during which he gave up a 10th-inning homer to pinch-hitter Taylor Ward, Barnes has had a 6.92 ERA, a 1.65 WHIP and is averaging 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
In his last two outings, Barnes has flashed an uptick in his velocity, but allowed two runs in his most recent encounter against the Chicago White Sox.
Wednesday night’s two-run walkoff homer by Atlanta’s Orlando Arcia represented yet another example of what the Sox have been clearly missing: A valuable closer.
On one end, the Braves had Kenley Jansen, who picked up his first win of the season, to command the ninth frame. On the other side, the Sox trotted out Ryan Brasier from the bullpen. The Braves signed Jansen to a one-year, $16 million deal in March. Barnes, meanwhile, continues to be buried in the bullpen, deployed only in low-leverage situations.
The Sox appeared to sit on their hands when it came to strengthening their bullpen this offseason, signing lefthanders Matt Strahm and Jake Diekman, who have struggled through injuries and performance issues. Neither is — nor, for that matter, is Barnes —the caliber of lockdown reliever as Jansen.
That was the sobering dose of reality as the the Sox absorbed their fifth walkoff loss of the season, the most of any team in the majors this year.
The Sox relievers entered the day tied for seventh in homers allowed (15), and had the eighth-worst ERA (4.14). In high-leverage situations, per Fangraphs, the Sox have a 7.27 ERA. The Sox bullpen has blown nine saves this year, which also leads the majors.
“We have to complete games,” manager Alex Cora said after Wednesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Braves. “We’ve been very close to completing games, but we are where we are because we haven’t done it.”
Song completes flight training
Noah Song, once a top pitching prospect whose Red Sox career was put on pause while he completed flight school for the Navy, has completed his aviation training and applied to the Secretary of the Navy for a service waiver that would allow him to resume his professional career with the Red Sox, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
Song, 24, was taken by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. He was viewed as a first-round talent that year who slipped due to questions about whether he’d be allowed to pursue a pro baseball career.
The righthander pitched briefly for the Lowell Spinners that summer, delivering 17 dominant innings (1.06 ERA, 19 strikeouts), then dazzled out of the bullpen while representing Team USA in the Premier12 international tournament. Evaluators considered him a pitcher with the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter based on a four-pitch mix anchored by a mid- to high-90s fastball.
Josh Taylor to 60-day IL
The team will be without reliever Josh Taylor (back) for even longer. The Red Sox transferred Taylor to the 60-day injured list Thursday. Taylor missed the entire spring due to a lingering back issue.
The team sent him on a rehab assignment late last month but shut him down after just two outings. The goal was to at least get Taylor to five or six appearances, given that he missed the entire spring.
Taylor was at Fenway receiving treatment this month and did not make this road trip. He will remain in Boston and be evaluated by the head trainer Brad Pearson
“It’s something we have to discuss,” Cora said of Taylor’s status prior to Braves series. “He’s getting better, but not at the rate we expected. We’ll have more information on him in the upcoming days.”
Taylor has been a consistent lefthanded reliever for parts of three seasons with the Sox, registering a 3.69 ERA in 102⅓ innings pitched, with 129 strikeouts in that span. He posted a 3.40 ERA in 47⅔ innings last season, with 60 strikeouts.
Aráuz reinstated from COVID list
The Red Sox reinstated infielder Jonathan Aráuz from the COVID-19-related injury list and optioned him to Triple-A Worcester . . . The Red Sox will get to face old friend and hitting coach, Tim Hyers, who is now the Rangers’ hitting coach, in this weekend’s series in Arlington, Texas. Hyers was the Sox hitting coach from 2018-21. The Sox were arguably the best offense in baseball under Hyers for four seasons. The Sox ranked first in batting average (.266), slugging (.455), OPS (.790), and eighth in homers (753). The Rangers, however, have struggled so far under Hyers, hitting just .219 (tied for 24th in the majors) with the fourth-worst OPS (.627) . . . Former Red Sox pitcher Martín Pérez is off to a good start for the Rangers. The lefthander has a 2.10 ERA in six starts and 34⅓ innings pitched. He’s gone at least six innings in his last four starts. Pérez tossed 6⅓ innings in a 6-4 win against the Royals Tuesday, allowing an earned run while striking out six batters . . . Patriots offensive lineman Trent Brown made an appearance at Polar Park, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the WooSox home game against the Rochester Red Wings.
Alex Speier of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.