BOSTON (CBS) — August has not been a very fun month for Red Sox closer Matt Barnes. And with back to back appearances that saw him allow three runs over just a third of an inning, the Red Sox may look to someone else to shut the door in the ninth inning — at least temporarily.
It’s something Alex Cora is kicking around the office after Barnes was tagged for a solo homer by Josh Donaldson and two walks without recording an out in Tuesday night’s 11-9 win over the Twins. On Monday, Barnes blew a 3-1 Red Sox lead in the ninth on three singles and a two-run, ground-rule double by Texas’ Andy Ibanez.READ MORE: Bill Belichick Turns Down Opportunity To Respond To Alex Guerrero: 'On Monday We'll Get To Next Week'
The Red Sox hung on to win Tuesday night when Hansel Robles closed things out against the Twins. Travis Shaw rescued the team from disaster on Monday with an 11th inning walk-off grand slam against the Rangers.
Barnes was an All-Star after a stellar first half of the season, but things have taken a turn since the calendar flipped to August. He has just one save in nine appearances this month, blowing two of his opportunities and getting tagged with three losses. He’s allowed 11 hits and five walks over 5.1 innings and is sporting a 16.88 ERA.
To Barnes’ credit, he sat down to chat with reporters about his struggles after Tuesday’s outing.
“I think frustrated is probably a bit of an understatement. It has been a tough couple of weeks for me,” he said. “It’s a frustrating game, and I don’t think you’re going to find someone that is more frustrated than me right now.
“I picked a bad time to start sucking,” he added. “But it’s about winning ballgames. Even with my struggles the last couple of nights, guys have come through in the clutch to pick me up and we won both ballgames, which I think is really important to make sure everybody understands that.”READ MORE: Fantasy Football Start Or Sit Week 3: Is Daniel Jones Poised For A Big Week?
Barnes said he was working through some mechanical issues a few weeks back, and was pleased with his pitches (aside from the walks) on Monday and Tuesday. He vowed to keep working and believes strongly that he’ll be part of the mix as the Red Sox battle for a playoff spot.
But Cora said after Tuesday’s game that he may give Barnes a break from his closing duties as a way to help regain his All-Star form.
“We’re concerned,” said Cora. “Obviously we’re not going to pick on the guy, but we have to make adjustments, whatever it is. We keep talking about it.”
Barnes said that he is open for anything the team wants him to do.
“I’m going to be ready whenever that phone rings. We’re going to continue to work. We’re going to get this right. Make no mistake, this is going to get fixed and I’m going to go back to being exactly what I was three weeks ago. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind about that.”
Robles — who notched his 11th save of the season Tuesday night and first with Boston — is a candidate to fill in for Barnes. Cora could also turn to Garrett Whitlock, who earned the W on Monday and has been pretty lights out when called upon out of the bullpen.MORE NEWS: Celtics Reportedly Sign Garrison Mathews To Training Camp Roster
But Boston’s best chance at locking down a playoff spot, and having success in October, will depend on Barnes regaining his All-Star form.