ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There have been occasions in his three seasons managing the Red Sox that John Farrell has regretted staying too long with the starting pitcher. It happened with Rick Porcello on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.
Farrell was a starter during his playing career, then became a pitching coach, so it's understandable why he would show such faith.
There are limits, though. Wade Miley was working on a three-hit shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays in the sixth inning on Tuesday night, but was lifted after two walks loaded the bases.
Farrell turned to his bullpen and the result was a 1-0 victory before a crowd of 14,307 at Tropicana Field.
Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross Jr., Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara retired 10 of the final 11 Tampa Bay batters. They secured the first win for Miley with the Sox.
"The guys who came out of the bullpen did an absolutely outstanding job," Farrell said.
In the ninth, Uehara allowed a leadoff single by Logan Forsythe, bringing the dangerous Evan Longoria to the plate. Uehara kept his splitter down and got a grounder to third base that started a double play. Desmond Jennings also grounded out and the many Red Sox fans in the crowd celebrated.
On a night the Sox were 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position, pitching was the difference and the bullpen was particularly effective. Red Sox relievers have a 2.45 earned run average and 1.00 WHIP through 14 games.
"It's been fun to watch. They've been outstanding," Miley said.
Tazawa has been dominant in seven appearances. He has seven shutout innings, allowing three hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. Tazawa has used his curveball more often with good results and has been efficient with his pitches. The three outs Tuesday came on six pitches.
Via translator C.J Matsumoto, Tazawa said it's a matter of having confidence in his curveball.
"I'm feeling better with the way I'm releasing it. It's the best I've been able to do the last couple of years," he said.
Farrell has used Tazawa in the seventh or eighth inning, usually against whichever part of the lineup will be toughest. The righthander is comfortable with whatever is required and isn't tied to one particular inning, as some relievers prefer.
"It's all up to the manager how he uses me," Tazawa said. "If I'm unsuccessful, I feel at least I can feel it's the manager's fault for putting me in that situation."
That the usually serious Tazawa is cracking jokes is an offshoot of the Sox being 9-5.
Miley (1-1) didn't get through the third inning in his last start, giving up seven runs against the Nationals. But against the Rays he was able to get ahead with first-pitch strikes and zip through innings. He allowed three hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
Miley started 15 of the first 17 batters with strikes and was 18 of 22 for the game.
"You can kind of do what you want to do from there," he said. "The last time was probably just the opposite."
Miley had a two-hitter through five innings and to that point had thrown 68 pitches. As was the case in his first start this season, he lost it in the sixth inning.
With two outs and a runner on first, Miley walked Forsythe and Longoria. Farrell went to Ogando to face Jennings.
Farrell said Ogando was coming in regardless. That Jennings was 0 for 7 against Ogando made it a perfect fit.
Jennings grounded to shortstop and the Red Sox got a force at second base to end the inning.
Red Sox opponents have been mistake-prone this season. That continued in the third inning and led to the only run of the game.
Ryan Hanigan, who played for the Rays last season, singled with one out against Chris Archer. Mookie Betts then walked.
Dustin Pedroia followed with a one-hopper that Archer gloved. He fired to second base for the second out of the inning, but the Rays couldn't finish the double play.
Second baseman Ryan Brett made a wild throw to first base and Hanigan scored when it skipped past Forsythe at first.
Betts slid hard into Brett to help force the error.
"Those are things we talk about and it was my chance to put it into play," Betts said. "Nothing dirty. Just go in and break up the double play."
It was the 21st error committed by a Red Sox opponent and it has led to 19 unearned runs. Farrell hopes his team has something to do with that by putting pressure on the defense.
"It's something that we school; it's something that we stress repeatedly with our guys," he said. "They pay attention to detail and those are smaller things that show up inside a close game."
Archer (2-2) was otherwise unbreakable.
The Red Sox stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, and again in the ninth against reliever Jose Dominguez.
Archer allowed the one unearned run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out nine. He had a 6.03 earned run average in seven previous starts against the Red Sox.