SEATTLE — This is a new era of the Boston Red Sox bullpen. And through two games, the bullpen has been the highlight of this team.

After Nathan Eovaldi was torched for six runs in five innings, four Red Sox relievers combined to throw four hitless innings, striking out seven and paving the way for a dramatic comeback as Boston completed a wild 7-6 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

Through two games, the Red Sox rotation is 0-1 with a 14.63 ERA. The bullpen is 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA.

Eovaldi lasted five innings. From there, Colten Brewer worked around two walks in his Red Sox debut for a scoreless sixth, Brandon Workman struck out one in a perfect seventh and Brian Johnson, who typically maxes out at 89-90 mph, touched 92 mph while striking out the side in a perfect eighth, setting the stage for Matt Barnes in the ninth.

Barnes isn’t officially the closer, but it’s safe to say that the flame-throwing right-hander is primed to be the most important reliever in the Red Sox bullpen this season.

Barnes admitted he was nervous, though there were no signs of him being too amped up.

“Any time your name is called and you go in for the first time, you always have an anxious excitement,” he said. “And anybody who tells you they don’t is just lying to you. It’s the way we are. But once you get out there and get loose and start running out there and get into the game, it’s the same thing, you’re locked in what you’re trying to do.”

Confident and true to himself, his first three pitches as the de facto closer were three straight curveballs, all of them perfectly placed, to Mariners star Mitch Haniger. Barnes retired him on a 97-mph heater.

He then struck out Domingo Santana on a 97-mph fastball and fanned Daniel Vogelbach to end the game on a curve that was spotted on the bottom-outside corner.

“It’s awesome, especially given the guys who have closed the ninth inning prior to me in this organization,” Barnes said. “You’re talking about a bunch of All-Stars with a whole bunch of saves. So it’s an honor … If it’s not me in the ninth inning on a given night we have 100 percent faith in the other guy who is going to take the ball and close the game out for us.”

Barnes has been training himself for this job for years. Last year, the final of Craig Kimbrel’s contract, Barnes was taking notes about how Kimbrel prepared for his role as a closer.

“I was fortunate to have Craig here for multiple years and I learned a lot from him, the way he goes about his business and conducts himself,” Barnes said.

That includes adopting Kimbrel’s postgame workouts.

“I want to make sure my legs feel as fresh and as good as possible before a game,” Barnes said. “So if I work out prior to a game, I don’t want to expend any energy then. So if I do it now, I have all night and tomorrow morning until, almost 24 hours, for my body to recover as opposed to maybe six hours before I have to pitch or something like that.”

It worked for Barnes last year, when he had a 2.30 ERA entering August before a hip injury interrupted his season.

He seems much more open to the flexible closer role that is becoming more prevalent across baseball in recent years. He doesn’t need the title to make him happy.

“The thing that has helped me the most was pitching in the postseason last year, in the ALCS and the World Series in particular,” said Barnes, who threw 8 2/3 innings in the playoffs and allowed just one run on three hits. “The fourth or fifth inning in those games is so incredibly high-leverage because every game and every pitch is so drastic in those scenarios that honestly I tried to draw on that.”


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