Reliever Heath Hembree entered last night’s game against Colorado confident that if he did his job the Red Sox lineup would deliver.
Hembree came in with one on and no outs in the sixth inning with his team down four runs and intent on limiting the damage the Rockies inflicted on Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.
Hembree sufficiently contained Colorado but the Red Sox offense hit its first road block of the interleague series. The Rockies avoided a sweep with an 8-2 victory before 36,162 at Fenway Park.
Hembree threw three innings and allowed three hits with one unearned run and two strikeouts. He has thrown more than one inning in eight of his 12 appearances since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on April 19 and leads all Red Sox relievers with 192/3 innings.
The immediate casualty of the Red Sox power outage was center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. who saw his MLB-best hit streak snapped after 29 games.
“I know we could put up four runs real quick, especially coming in in that situation and keeping them where they are,” said Hembree, who lowered his ERA to 1.83.
“It was a 6-2 ball game when I came in and my job was to keep them where they are because this lineup can score runs quick.”
Buchholz started strong, retiring the first nine batters he faced. His night took a turn for the worse in the top of the fourth when Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez tied the game 2-2 with his sixth homer of the season.
The roof caved in on Buchholz in the fifth when left fielder Gerardo Parra opened the frame with a single up the middle. Shortstop Trevor Story gave the Rockies a 4-2 lead with his 13th home run.
After an infield single, Colorado catcher Dustin Garneau hit his first homer of the season to put Colorado up, 6-2.
Buchholz retired the next three batters and was booed as he exited the field. Buchholz surrendered a leadoff single to Gonzalez in the sixth before Hembree entered the fray.
“When they called down I tried to get loose as quick and I can,” said Hembree. “I try to extend and throw good fastballs and get a feel for my breaking pitch.
“I tried to come in and execute those pitches, get out of every inning and get the offense in there swinging the bats.”
He retired the first three men he faced to officially end Buchholz 10th start of the season. Hembree allowed an unearned run in the seventh but kept things under control.
He got some help in the eighth when shortstop Xander Bogaerts robbed Story of a hit and doubled Parra off second to end the inning.
“The role I’m kind of in now is to eat up some innings, but I really don’t think about that,” said Hembree. “I just come in and try to execute pitches until they come out of the dugout and say I’m done.”