MLB: World Series-Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox

If it were up to columnist Mike Shalin, the Red Sox would have a real closer. One like Craig Kimbrel, maybe?

CALL ME old school. Call me old fashioned. Heck, you can even get the heck off my lawn.

I do NOT like the way the Red Sox are handling the ends of games when they have the lead.

In other words, where’s the closer?

Brandon Workman earned the first save of his major league career in Sunday’s win that avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the Astros.

It was Workman’s second save try. Matt Barnes, who pitched the eighth, is 3-for-6. Ryan Brasier is 6-for-8. Heath Hembree is 1-for-1.

That’s 11-for-17 from four guys. Can this work in the bid to repeat?

I say no.

The Red Sox, with their eye on the luxury tax, didn’t bring Craig Kimbrel or Joe Kelly back. Now, we can argue from here to Toronto about those two righties. Kimbrel is still looking for work and Kelly is 1-2 with a 7.79 ERA and is 0-for-3 in saves (the Dodgers cruising with Kenley Jansen, who is 14-for-16).

The Boston brass has downplayed the whole closing thing since the start of spring training, but while Workman has been very good (one bad outing) out of the pen, imagine the uproar if the Astros got to him Sunday.

The Red Sox took a mediocre 24-22 record to Toronto for four and have to go to Houston this weekend. Workman pitched the sixth inning in a 12-2 trip-opening rout of the Blue Jays on Monday afternoon.

We can only wonder if they will let this new-look bullpen thing play out.

Surprise numbers

Meanwhile, while we examine the back end, what about the work of one Marcus Walden?

This guy, a 30-year-old rookie who has called Lancaster of the Independent League home, went from 2007-17 without appearing in a major league game. He was up for eight appearances for Boston last year, earning a save and going 0-0 with a 3.68 ERA.

This year? He was the winner Sunday and is 6-0 with a 1.37 ERA in 16 games — 26 1/3 innings, 12 hits, a .135 opponents’ batting average and 0.68 WHIP. He’s on a wonderful roll and his newly-refined slider has been the key.

“It was more to create my fastball look,” Walden tells Dave Laurilla of Fangraphs. “If something is coming out of a different window, the hitters are going to see that. They’re going to be able to read slider out of the hand. Now I’m more in the arm slot of my sinker and my cutter, while still creating some horizontal break.”

Key win

The Red Sox came from 3-1 down to win Sunday’s game, avoiding what could have been a painful sweep.

“Yeah, obviously a really big win,” said Workman. “If we lost, we went back to .500 and you don’t want to get swept by a team that you’ve seen in the playoffs and (are) likely to again, so it was nice to get a win and end the series on a high note.”

Chris Sale didn’t have his best day, but did strike out 10 more — and was bailed out by a Walden double play in the sixth.

“I was picked up by Walden big time in the sixth inning,” Sale said. “That was honestly probably the biggest moment and he stepped up big for us.”

David Price came off the Injured List to pitch the opener of the series in Toronto, working five effective innings to improve to 22-3 lifetime against the Jays.

Playoff drama

If you missed it, the blood and guts you didn’t see from the Celtics all season and then in that Milwaukee series was very much on display north of the border Sunday night.

As the Red Sox were arriving in town for their four-game series, the Raptors, led by a gimpy Kawhi Leonard, survived a double-overtime war with the Bucks even after losing Kyle Lowry and Marvin Powell in regulation — basically to stay alive in the Eastern final.

Leonard, seemingly hurt on a dunk in the second half, scored eight points in the second OT and shook off the hurt after the game, saying it’s playoff time and everyone is hurt this time of year.

This is a guy who refused to play in San Antonio last season. But he continues to show he’s one of the best there is, and he does it on both ends of the floor.

Getting closer

Earlier Sunday, the Blues, hoping to celebrate the 49th anniversary of playing the Bruins in the finals with a repeat (the series, not the result), waltzed into San Jose and blew the Sharks right out of their own tank.

The 5-0 shellacking left St. Louis one win away from opening the finals in Boston next Monday. Meanwhile, the Bruins rest, practice and likely even scrimmage to try to stay sharp during the long layoff.

To make things tougher for the Sharks, Erik Karlsson, Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski are hurt. Karlsson played hurt Sunday and it showed as Jaden Schwartz notched his second hat trick of these playoffs.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney, talking about Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, the two players he acquired at the deadline, said, “They fit in very well with our group. I think they balanced our lineup. They’ve developed some chemistry and it’s certainly presented some challenges for the other teams.

Bill No. 1 has tabbed Bill Belichick as the top NFL coach of all-time, with Don Shula No. 2 and Vince Lombardi No. 3. “While his fashion sense is rather atrocious, we can’t criticize Bill Belichick for virtually anything as it pertains to the sport of football,” the piece read. “Since 2001, the Patriots — under Belichick’s guidance — have appeared in 13 AFC Championship Games (including the last eight in a row). Additionally during this time, Belichick has led the franchise to six Super Bowl titles. There’s never been a coach more adept at making halftime adjustments — nor a man capable of scheming to the point that the opposition’s best player is rendered useless. Simply put, Belichick defines what it means to be an elite head coach — regardless of sport.” By the way, Bill Parcells was No. 11.

Chris Long, who played a season and won a Super Bowl in New England before winning one in Philadelphia, decided to retire.

He posted: “Cheers. Been a hell of a journey. Eleven years and I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it. Highs and lows. I’ve seen them both and I appreciate the perspective. Gratitude and love to those who lifted me up.”

Finally, I’d like to thank the Rotary Club of Nashua for hosting Steve Babineau and myself at their luncheon Monday. We had a great time! If your group is interested in having me come up your way, let me know.


Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.