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Friday, August 13, 2010
Does this look like the face of a bozo that leads MLB in blown saves?
Once upon a time Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was one of the best in baseball at his position.
Those days seem long gone as he continues to scuffle, blowing his AL-leading sixth game yesterday afternoon in Toronto as the Blue Jays (60-54) shocked the Sox (66-50) 6-5 in the series finale at the Rogers Centre.
It's hard to overstate how important this game was: Boston led 5-2 going into the ninth and they had the chance to sweep a pretty decent team on the road and gain half a game on the idle Rays.
For once John Lackey deserved better: he went eight plus innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts. With a low pitch count, he went back out to start the ninth but promptly gave up a solo homer to Jose Bautista (who's your dealer bro?).
Enter Papelbon (4-5) who gave up three earned runs on four hits before he was mercifully pulled by Terry Francona.
After Vernon Wells (2 hits) double on the first pitch by Papelbon, Adam Lind (2 hits) singled up the middle to cut it to 5-4. Edwin Encarnacion tied it up with a double down the left field line. After a strikeout and an intentional walk, Daniel Bard came on but Fred Lewis delivered a sacrifice fly which scored Aaron Hill with the winning run.
Against scrub minor leaguer (a spot starter) Brad Mills, the Red Sox teed off. Victor Martinez (2 hits) began the barrage with a sacrifice fly in the third. David Ortiz made it 2-0 in the next at bat with an RBI single.
Toronto got one back in the fourth when a run scored on Lind's double play ball.
Jed Lowrie and Ortiz hit solo shots in the fifth to get Mills out of the game.
Another run scored for the Blue Jays in the sixth on Bautista's double play.
Things looked fine though as Darnell McDonald (2 hits) had an RBI triple in the eighth which scored Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2 hits) to make it 5-2.
Boston wraps up this road trip with three in Texas, beginning with Josh Beckett vs. 9-1 Tommy Hunter tonight. The Rangers are a very good team and it's always though to play in the Texas heat this time of year.
It'll be interesting to see what happens if the Sox find themselves in a save situation tonight. Bard only threw two pitches yesterday while Papelbon labored through 19 that felt like 40. Francona will stay with a player until his arm falls off so don't expect him to do anything drastic for a long time.
New York (who won last night) are six games ahead of Boston and Tampa Bay is four games ahead of the Sox in the AL wild card.