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Jonathan Papelbon entered the game in the eighth inning with the Red Sox clinging to a 4-3 lead and pinch hitter Manny Ramirez at the plate. Everyone in the ballpark and watching on TV were hoping for a strikeout. Instead, he hit Manny, which was probably the second most desirable result.
Papelbon worked the Red Sox out of the jam, and after Adrian Beltre scored a key insurance run, he was handed the ball with a 5-3 lead entering the ninth inning. In the ninth, he imploded, allowing two hits and two walks to fork over the lead. In all, he was charged with four runs after Robert Manuel walked in two runs in relief of Dustin Richardson, who walked one batter in relief of Paps. Caught up yet?
Either way, it was a disastrous inning for the Red Sox, and truly a microcosm of the team’s tumultuous season. Papelbon officially blew his seventh save overall, a career high. While he’s still a top 10 closer, it’s becoming more apparent that it may be the best option is to let him walk into free agency after next season and anoint Daniel Bard the closer.
To Papelbon’s defense, however, he stayed in the game for 48 pitches, which is an enormous amount for any relief pitcher. The only reason Papelbon was so overextended is because Daniel Bard was forced to enter the game in the seventh inning, leaving Paps to enter the game in the eighth when the Sox pitchers were in trouble again.
Lost in the Papelbon drama was Josh Beckett, who really battled through a number of jams and numerous baserunners. As a result, he ran his pitch count to 114 over 6.1 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) with nine strikeouts.
Victor came up huge for the Red Sox in the bottom of the seventh inning, blasting a long two-run homer to give the Red Sox the 4-3 lead after the pitchers coughed it up in the top half. They later coughed it up again…
Closers are often a victim of circumstance, when they fail, everyone sees it. Paps was hit hard in the inning, but a lot of the balls landed in between fielders and just out of the reach of others. The young pitchers made the game even uglier, but it was clear that Paps had to save this game.
W: Scott Linebrick (3-1)
L: Jonathan Papelbon (5-6)
SV: Matt Thornton (6)