Andrew Bailey has been a cut above the typical closer lately, and his coaches have noticed.
Bailey mowed down the A’s in the ninth with three straight strikeouts Wednesday evening, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 win and providing further evidence that the team may have a real closer battle on its hands this year after Bailey struggled in the role during his injury-shortened 2012 season.
Bailey earned his fifth save in Wednesday night’s win, but this one fell into the category of a save that left no room for error.
“That was a man’s save,” pitching coach Juan Nieves said of Bailey’s 19-pitch performance, according to The Boston Globe.
Manager John Farrell also had compliments for Bailey, who has only improved since closer Joel Hanrahan hit the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
“When you look at him, he looks like he’s pitching with his hair on fire,” Farrell said. “But he’s out there with a definite plan, and he’s able to execute it.”
Both Nieves and Farrell have said that Hanrahan is the closer this year, leaving Bailey to move back to the role of eighth-inning setup man once Hanrahan returns. Bailey said Wednesday that his role isn’t his decision.
“My goal was to stay healthy and prove that I could pitch,” he said. “I think I’ve proven that I can pitch. We’ll see what happens when he comes back. We’re all on the same page in terms of where we want to take this team. Whatever roles are, roles are.”
Bailey has a 1.59 ERA in 12 appearances this year. He’s allowed just five hits and four walks while striking out 20.