BOSTON -- Koji Uehara's fastball was nearly invisible from his repertoire during his blown save in Baltimore on Saturday, and when he did throw it, the velocity was in the low to mid-80s. When the closer took the ball for the Red Sox on Monday night, he didn't try to hide the pitch. Instead, he encouraged catcher Ryan Hanigan to call it.
The result was a rebound performance from Uehara, who struck out two en route to a perfect ninth inning that helped set up Boston's 6-5 walk-off victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park. In fact, Uehara got the win.
"With the pitch selection, I told Hani that I wanted to throw a lot more fastballs in this outing," Uehara said through an interpreter. "I still don't know if it's good or not, because I haven't thrown a lot of fastballs this season."
Uehara's fastball reached 88 mph Monday night, a significant improvement from last time out.
"Second night in Baltimore was the first time he's gone back to back all year, so hopefully he's gaining some arm strength," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "A couple of days off seemed to be a little bit rejuvenated. Better finish to not only the fastball but to the split. It was an encouraging night from him as well."
The reason Uehara's fastball is so vital is that it keeps hitters off-balance against his true weapon -- the splitter.
"I recognize the importance of the fastball after the last outing. That's what I took out of that outing," said Uehara.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.