Boston Red Sox

May 2, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (0) throws a pitch in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The bullpen has been a strength of the 2021 Red Sox, and a somewhat surprising one at that. But the group stumbled over the weekend in Texas.

Boston relievers finished April ranking seventh in the major leagues in ERA (3.09) and second in WAR (1.7) as a unit. But they started off the month of May with a pair of blown leads on Saturday and Sunday. Matt Andriese gave up three runs on Saturday to take the loss and the blown save, then Adam Ottavino was credited with the loss and blown save after allowing two runs in the eighth inning on Sunday.

In all, Red Sox relievers allowed seven runs in six innings on Saturday and Sunday – a 10.50 ERA. They allowed 13 combined walks and hits over that span.

Ottavino pointed to the leadoff walk he let up in the eighth inning on Sunday as the point where he made everything much harder on himself.

“I’m not trying to do that, but [I’m] pretty disappointed that I did,” said Ottavino (via Ian Browne). “And, you know, after that, I mean I got to the spot where I could have gotten out of it, but I made a bad pitch and I gave up a hit there and, yeah, it’s that simple. A leadoff walk and your margin for error really shrinks.”

On the bright side, closer Matt Barnes continued to roll as he stopped the bleeding after Ottavino’s blown save on Monday. Also, the bullpen’s margin for error was low in part because the Rangers retired seven straight Red Sox batters to close out Sunday’s game.

The bats and bullpen return home needing to bounce back. They get their first chance to do so in a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park from Tuesday-Thursday.

MORE: What we learned about the Red Sox in April

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at