By Mark Jurgena
Houck strikes out Paul Goldschmidt looking…game over Red Sox win! Yes, I am aware it’s 15 miles to St. Louis but last Friday, June 16th was a big day for Kahok Nation.
Collinsville High School alum Tanner Houck, the new closer for the Boston Red Sox, picked up his third save of the season by locking up the Cardinals slugger on a 3-2 fastball. Boston won 6-5.
He returned for another save situation two days later. After giving up a single to the Cardinals Tommy Edman he struck out Brendan Donovan to nail down a 6-5 Red Sox win.
The closer role
As of this writing, Houck was a perfect five-for-five in save opportunities with his last one coming Monday night in a 5-2 win over Detroit.
In those five save opportunities he has thrown 3.2 innings, given up five hits, allowed only one run, and struck out six.
Houck has been moved to the bullpen during this season and was getting two to three innings in an appearance, however Boston manager Alex Cora needed him in a different role.
“We kept pushing for this,” Cora said in his post-game press conference after Houck’s first save. “I just feel like where we’re at pitching-staff wise, losing him for three or four days [after a long relief appearance] puts us in a bad spot.”
So far Houck is thriving in the role of pitching more often for a shorter amount of time.
His two other saves came on June 10th in a 4-3 win at Seattle and two days later he finished off a 2-0 win over the Mariners.
Through Monday’s games, Houck was 4-3 with a 3.45 ERA. He has posted 44 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched while walking 16 hitters.
Boston is 37-31 on the season and was in third place in the American League East Division. They are 13.5 games behind the first-place New York Yankees. Toronto is second at 38-29.