Wow, did Koji Uehara have a rough American League Championship Series against the Tigers.
The right-handed reliever gave up a pair of home runs. Each came late in a game with his team already behind. Uehara's ERA for the series was 13.50.
This is no bit of sarcastic fiction. This is how Uehara pitched for the Texas Rangers in the 2011 ALCS against the Tigers.
He pitched in both games the Tigers won in that series and in none of the four games the Tigers lost.
The Red Sox signed Uehara this past off-season in what seemed a minor transaction. After Boston's first two closers suffered year-ending injuries, Uehara took over the role in late June. As the closer, he became Dennis Eckersley-like untouchable: two walks, 59 strikeouts and a 0.41 ERA. He was proof of the spring-training saying that somewhere there is a player no one is talking about who will have a huge impact.
Uehara appeared in all four Boston wins in the ALCS. His totals: one win, three saves, no runs allowed, 14 of 16 batters retired.
Uehara was named the series MVP. Two years after his championship-series ERA against the Tigers was 13.50, it was 0.00.
The late-career rise of Uehara, 38, shows how unpredictable relief pitchers can be from year to year. Add in injuries and you have the two reasons why it's hard for any team to keep a good bullpen.
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