BALTIMORE -- Friday marked the one-month anniversary of when Koji Uehara closed his first game for the Red Sox. And all you have to do is look at the numbers to see that manager John Farrell picked the right guy to take over in the ninth inning.
In his first 15 games as the closer, Uehara has a 0.59 ERA while converting eight of 10 save opportunities. Opponents are hitting .115 against him during that span. Over 15 1/3 innings, he has walked one while striking out 23.
Uehara is the classic case of a closer dominating with location rather than velocity.
"There's probably a long list of successful closers that have been like him," said Farrell. "They might not be so prominent right now. You can go back to Bruce Sutter. You can go back to Doug Jones. [Trevor] Hoffman."
Keith Foulke, who led the Red Sox to World Series glory in 2004, is another former closer who fits that mold.
"There's some long history with guys that have been very successful with an out pitch, and the out pitch doesn't have to be mid-90s," Farrell said.
Because of game situations, Uehara had pitched just once in the last five days entering Saturday's action.
However, his durability this season has been a very pleasant surprise to Farrell.
"Through the pretty evenly spaced out work that he's had to date, it's kept him in very good pitching shape. He's felt as fresh and as strong now as he did for the start of the season," Farrell said. "What marvels you is his overall efficiency. I don't have the number of pitches thrown by guys with equal appearances, but I venture to say, he's probably thrown less."
Britton thriving in unfamiliar role
BALTIMORE -- In the 106 appearances Drake Britton had in the Minor Leagues, 102 were as a starter.
However, the lefty has made four outings for the Red Sox since his callup July 14, and they've all been successful relief appearances.
With Andrew Miller out for the season with a left foot injury, Britton's emergence has been big for Boston. In four innings, Britton has allowed two hits and no runs.
"My confidence is definitely up there, especially having four of my first outings up here to be successful," Britton said. "But I'm just loving it. Any way I can contribute in a positive way, that's good for me. I'm just excited to try to help us win."
In his first four Major League outings, Britton has faced established hitters like Ichiro Suzuki, Robinson Cano, Evan Longoria, Nick Markakis and Chris Davis.
"I'm here to get lefties out and I'm here to pitch in a situation where they believe I can get us out of it," Britton said. "I wasn't star-struck when I got up here. Obviously it's a cool feeling to be able to throw against some of those guys, but I'm playing against them. I don't have to watch them on TV anymore. That's just been my mental approach."
Does Britton still view himself as a starter in the long run?
"I want to be a pitcher in the big leagues. I don't care what role it is," Britton said.
Part of what has made his transition to the bullpen a smooth one is his ability to warm up quickly.
"He's made some pretty tangible adjustments to his delivery from the last time we saw him in Spring Training, and that's to his credit, the work that he's put in," said manager John Farrell. "Along the way, I would think, through four appearances, he's probably gained some confidence in the settings he's been put into."
Carp starts, slumping Nava sits
BALTIMORE -- With Daniel Nava in a 2-for-12 funk coming out of the All-Star break, Mike Carp made the start in left field for the Red Sox in Saturday night's game against the Orioles.
Manager John Farrell has three players he can start in left -- Nava, Carp and Jonny Gomes.
"It's a delicate balance," said Farrell. "That's why having guys who have been in that role prior is extremely valuable. Both Jonny and Mike have been in that somewhat and yet, tonight with Mike being in there, it's a matter of not letting him get too far away from his most recent activity and maybe Daniel's swing at times can get a little bit long and that's not to be critical. That's just monitoring the situation as it stands."
Getting playing time for Carp, who is hitting .317 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 139 at-bats, has been an ongoing challenge for Farrell. Nava has 324 at-bats and was one of Boston's best hitters during the first half of the season.