Here's on way to earn the respect of your new teammates – save the bullpen by tossing four shutout innings of relief in your team debut. That's what Heath Hembree did last night during a 19-inning marathon that the Boston Red Sox ended up losing to the Los Angeles Angels.
The loss takes nothing away from Hembree's heroic effort, who did more than his fair share to keep Boston in the game until the wee hours of the morning. The four innings were the most he had pitched in a game since college. "Honestly I was getting a little tired, but I was just trying to give everything I had and just empty the tank," Hembree told reporters after the game. He did give it all he had in holding it together for a bullpen that had run out of options. It's a wonder they didn't let Brock Holt pitch an inning with the way things were going. Why not? He's done just about everything else for this team. Instead John Farrell turned to Brandon Workman in the 19th inning, who immediately gave up a walk-off homer run to Albert Pujols.
So what does Hembree get as a reward for his impressive effort? He's been sent back down to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for a fresh bullpen arm. Hembree would have been unavailable for at least a couple of days after throwing 62 pitches, so Boston needed reinforcements for it's fatigued bullpen. Sometimes this game isn't fair. However, Hembree's debut proved he belongs in the big leagues and should rejoin the team soon.
Hembree was acquired from San Francisco in the Jake Peavy trade last month. He's a hard strike throwing reliever with velocity that can reach the mid-90s to go with a plus slider. He's been a closer before in the minors and has the potential to fill that role in Boston some day.
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