Bullpen set the stage for Martin's heroics

Bullpen set the stage for Martin's heroics

BOSTON -- Russell Martin received most of the credit after the Blue Jays' 5-4 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon. But the true unsung heroes of the game could be found in the bullpen.

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Liam Hendriks, Steve Delabar, Aaron Loup and closer Brett Cecil combined to toss five scoreless innings, which prolonged the game long enough for Martin to hit his go-ahead solo shot in the 11th.

Cecil notches the save

Toronto's bullpen has come under fire multiple times this season, but the group as a whole hasn't been tested much lately. Prior to this series against Boston, the Blue Jays had not earned a save during a stretch of 18 wins that dated back to May 4. That was because the club was either losing games or blowing out its opponents, but the relievers have definitely been tested at Fenway Park.

"It's kind of been in the making," said Hendriks, who pitched two scoreless innings. "We've come out and thrown well, we just haven't had the chance to get into too many close games. Our offense has been incredible.

"We did what we needed to do today, we had some clutch outings from some guys -- Delly came in there, Loup came in there and Cecil locked it down. Once the starter goes, our bullpen is ready to go and we're ready to rumble."

The turning point in Saturday afternoon's game occurred in the seventh inning, when Hendriks loaded the bases with one out for David Ortiz. Despite the dangerous situation, manager John Gibbons allowed Hendriks to continue pitching -- despite having lefties Phil Coke, Loup and Cecil still available to pitch.

Hendriks fans Bogaerts

It seemed like a questionable decision at the time, but Hendriks made his manager look smart by striking out Ortiz and then overpowering No. 5 hitter Xander Bogaerts on three consecutive pitches. That kept the game tied at 4, and Hendriks would go on to pitch a clean eighth before giving way to his teammates.

Hendriks hasn't allowed a run in his last 8 1/3 innings and continues to transform his career, after spending the past several years bouncing back and forth between the Majors and Minors as a starter.

"I got myself into the jam, I want to get myself out of the jam," Hendriks said of being left in to face Ortiz and Bogaerts. "That's the way I've always been. I want to get myself out of those [situations], and I appreciate them leaving me in there -- and I was able to get out of it without anyone crossing the plate, which is huge."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.