Hanrahan alarms Sox fans with ninth-inning implosion
When Joel Hanrahan came on in the ninth inning of Monday’s 3-1 win over the Orioles, the solo home run by Adam Jones that Hanrahan surrendered was just a small hiccup in an overall well played game. But that home run seemed to be a prelude to the main event on Wednesday night, as Hanrahan imploded and allowed five runs in the ninth, blowing the game.
Before the home run on Monday, Hanrahan had been stellar through the first few games of the season. His 95-plus mph fastball and devastating slider have proven to be a good combination to shut down opposing teams; however, with two hiccups in one week, many are starting to question whether Wednesday night’s implosion is anything to be worried about.
The Sox went into the ninth in a save situation with a 5-3 lead, but a two-run lead is often plenty of insurance. Hanrahan quickly surrendered that wiggle room when he gave up a leadoff home run, but he quickly retired the next two batters. With two outs in the inning, Hanrahan served up a single to Ryan Flaherty then he walked Nolan Reimold. Hanrahan thought he had strike three on Nate McLouth, but instead it was ball four to load the bases. A subsequent wild pitch and a three-run homer off the bat of Manny Machado meant the Sox quickly found themselves in an 8-5 hole.
After the game, Hanrahan was both analytical and objective, choosing to look at how he could improve rather than wallow in what he did wrong.
“I was probably trying to throw a little too hard, trying to make things happen with my arm instead of letting my mechanics [do the work],” Hanrahan said. “Sometimes you just get in a tight situation and you try harder. As athletes, we tell ourselves to slow down and relax, but sometimes it happens.”
Hanrahan did seem hopeful though; while the Fenway faithful are not the most forgiving bunch Hanrahan is ready to take on the challenge of being the team’s closer this year. Baseball is a game of success and failure, something Hanrahan knows as a veteran closer. While one bad game might throw a pitcher off track, Hanrahan said he is ready to get back on the field.
“It’s not going to be hard [to forget]. I’m going to come here tomorrow and be ready to go,” Hanrahan said. “It’s not the first time I’ve blown a save, and it’s probably not going to be the last. It’s part of the game. It’s just how it goes sometimes. That’s the life of a reliever. One day you’re the goat, the next day you’re the hero. That’s just kind of how it goes. I’ll come in here tomorrow ready to go.”
Fear not Sox fans. Hanrahan has run into a string of successful seasons the past few years, making the All-Star team in 2011 and 2012 while featuring a sub 3.00 ERA in both seasons as the Pirates’ closer.