Papelbon proves to be human

We all knew it was coming. In a way, it was better to see Jonathan Papelbon’s streak of scoreless innings end in a game like Wednesday’s, a non-save situation, then if he had coughed up a one-run lead in the ninth.

I think you learn a lot more about someone on a bad night than when things are going well. And Papelbon showed true class and composure after tonight’s game, talking in the same confident tone he speaks with after a save and not making any excuses.

Papelbon spoke the other day about once blowing a save for Mississippi State with a trip to the College World Series at stake. Maybe it’s not Red Sox-Yankees, but Papelbon played in an ultra-intense atmosphere in college, so he’s used to the scrutiny and the pressure. One loss is not going to rattle this kid in the least. He is special.

More troublesome tonight was the game Beckett had. This is three games in a row where he hasn’t pitched well. He was so dominant those first three starts, you wonder what has happened in the last three. Are teams getting a better scouting report on him as he works his way around the American League? There’s no reason to think he’s having health issues, because he’s still hitting the mid ’90s on the gun.

Oh well, next time we get to see him pitch in Yankee Stadium to start the latest showdown next Tuesday. That will be a pretty good indication if Beckett is just in a mini-slump, or if a bigger problem is developing.

Meanwhile, it was nice to see the bottom of the order come up with some key hits in this one. Mike Lowell and Wily Mo Pena in particular took great at-bats all night. And Pena has been steady in center field, even though I know a lot of us had doubts.

Papelbon sort of took Foulke off the hook tonight. Everyone kind of forgets that Foulke also blew a lead tonight. While Foulke has pitched far better than he did last year, he is still prone to having off nights here and there. I think he is still getting the strength back in his knee, and still trying to erase some bad habits he developed last year.

Clement and Towers tomorrow. Clement hasn’t pitched his best game yet. Perhaps that will come Thursday.

Until then,

Ian.

24 Comments

I knew I’d jinx Papelbon by writing in my baseball diary that he had a 0.00 ERA (sorry about that). I agree that he handled it with lots of class and maturity. This indeed a chance to learn a lot about his makeup; I’m very curious to see how well he bounces back.

Pena has a number of similarities to a young Manny (and differences as well), and I certainly hope that he improves on defense as much as Manny has.

You had to like the Sox’ chances going into the bottom of the ninth only one run down with Ortiz and Manny batting 1-2. Then after the disappointment of their respective K and line out, Harris gets himself all the way to third. What a nail biter. Great game to watch, just not quite the preferred outcome.

Weather pressure was low, but Jon put a lot of pressure on himself. The temperature was cold, but Jon couldn’t get warm. The score was tight, and Jon couldn’t get loose.

Too many contradictions to overcome.

The real goats of this game were once again Loretta and Gonzales. Loretta was ahead of the count with the bases loaded, with an opportunity to bury Halliday and grounded into a double-play. Even if he struck out, at least Papi would have gotten a chance with men on. Gonzales couldn’t bunt the guys over late in the game and kills every rally he faces. When is Francona going to realize that nobody can bunt in the American League? Even if he got the bunt down, it would have been pretty easy to get the out at third because the defense was prepared… and Gonzales couldn’t even do that with several tries. Thats just bad managing.

I think Terry Francona does a decent job. It’s pretty hard to mismanage a team as good as his. I DO second guess some of his moves, but he’s right more times than me. But, being second guessed is part of his job. I do think managers get too hung up on this lefty-righty matchup thing, although stats probably prove the overall validity of it. David has hit nearly half his homers off lefties. That may be in part because he’s never pulled and sees more ABs against them. The ones he can’t hit, nobody can. I could not understand why Terry sent Dustin Mohr in last night to hit for Trot. Nixon is hitting .300. Mohr about half that. True, Trot hits righties better, but Dustin can’t hit ANYBODY! Thus, it’s a sad situation when we’re in the bottom of the ninth, two out, a run behind, David and Manny having failed against B.J. Ryan, our last hope coming to bat, that Francona can think of no better option than to send a .150 (non) hitter to the plate. Of course, maybe with B.J. on the mound, it wouldn’t have made any difference anyway. Ian, do you have any thoughts about why we’ve been snakebitten by these Blue Jays the past two years, matchups, whatever? We just can’t seem to beat them!!! And, I think it’s seeping into the Red Sox’s heads. It certainly is in mine.

I’d much rather see Papelbon be human right now in the beginning of May in a no save situation, than in late October against the Yankees with the pennant on the line. Overall though I’m getting depressed about the pitching. The line-up the Sox have (when Coco is back) is legit enough to score five runs a game. So therefore, the pitching staff combined should only be giving up four runs or less. Yet lately, they’ve been playing high run games which they aren’t going to win a lot because of guys like Loretta and Gonzalez. Isn’t it weird how the two shortstops they’ve given up on are now playing well given their chance. Hanley Ramierez has played well for the Marlins and last night Freddy Sanchez hit a homer against Pedro. Of course now the Sox would love to have either of those guys playing short instead of AG or AC.

Wow, Fagan and I actually agree on something. Mohr hitting for Nixon is never a good thing. I didn’t get that one either.

i really like soxmans comments. they certainly summed up pap’s night. it’s very unfortunate that we couldn’t pull this one off. i wonder how clement will do tonight?? with some luck and prayers he’ll have a better outing than a couple of his previous starts. GO SOX!!!, BRING IT ON AND GET IT DONE TONIGHT.

how long until coco is back? I’ve heard mid-may, I’ve heard next week, and I’ve heard 1st week of June. once he’s back the whole line up should be better. if you can remember back to the first series against texas, with coco leading off, loretta had 60 some odd swings and only missed once (or something along those lines) and was hitting .330 (or something like that). plus youkilis will go down to 7th or 8th and then there will be production from the bottom of the line up.

and something i have not yet figured out…why the h*** did the sox not re-sign cabrera??? he’s hitting .290 and is just about as good as a defender a AG is.

daniel:

While I agree with you and everyone else that pinch hitting Mohr for Nixon was a bad idea, it should be pointed out that it was actually in the 7th when Francona made the decision, putting Mohr in against Schoeneweis. Same result both times, a big fat K. Mohr did redeem himself for the first strikeout with that catch to rob Hillenbrand in the top of the ninth, but in both cases I’d say Nixon is the better choice.

I also agree heartily with starsfan4evr: I still don’t know why they let Cabrera go.

And in the “Hindsight is 20/20″ category, wouldn’t it be nice to have Bronson Arroyo as a fifth starter instead of Lenny Dinardo right about now?

that would be nice right now. it would even be nice to have traded clement instead of bronson. at least wily mo is starting to hit.

how about those back-up outfielders? Mohr is hittin .150 and Harris .067.

It is painful to see Mohr pinch-hitting for Nixon… However, the fact of the matter is that Nixon can’t hit lefties. In 2005, he hit .224 in 85 At Bats. In 2003, he hit .219 in 96 at bats. Face the facts, Dustin Mohr against a lefty is a better choice than Nixon. I love Nixon… don’t get me wrong… but he just can’t hit lefties.

its good to see clement have a good outing. i really don’t know why francona would put in seanez in and because of him it looked like the game was a lot closer than it was. plus he used up paps and he (francona) brobably didn’t want to. good to see him bounce back though

i was there tonight and heard an interesting comment on why seanez and tavarez were put in. “to run up the score and create a save opportunity for Papelbon”…which is exactly what happened!

I cringe every time that I see either Seanez or Tavares coming in. What is Terry’s fascination with these 2?(other than the fact that we’re short in that area). isn’t there any on the farm that could be brought up that could possibly better than they are or maybe a trade?? Then again who would trade for them unless there was a “name” in there too. Papelbon looked good again, maybe that one bad game took some pressure off him (the pressure of having had that 0.00 era anf trying to keep it) and he can relax some.

rayman:

I’m still not sure I see the up side of Mohr pinch hitting. Thus far this year in 23 ABs against lefties he’s hitting .217. Trot is hitting .233 against lefties so far this year. I’d have left Trot in, but as others have said, I haven’t been getting any phone calls lately asking me to manage in the bigs.

Hi Rob:
I see your point. I guess its an assumption that Mohr will hit decent against lefties over the long haul… .250? .280? maybe. Nixon has shown over hundreds of at bats that he’s about a .225 hitter against lefties. I think they are just giving Mohr a chance to prove himself. When CoCo gets back, it will be a no-brainer to pinch-hit Willy Mo in cases where Trot is coming up against a lefty.

Is anyone else as apprehensive as I am about the line-up changes when CoCo comes back? I know that Youk will give some power to the bottom of the order, but the bottoms producing very well right now. Specifically, I’m worried about Pena being taken out of constant play. This guy is the next Ortiz and is finally getting hot. I just can’t see him developing well sitting on the bench and pinch-hitting every 5 games.

I see the perfect solution to our lineup problems… Coco 1, Youkalis 2… That gives CoCo a ton of pitches to steal on. Youks can hit and run… he can actually drive in runs with doubles… and also gets a ton of walks. Ortiz will be getting many more opportunities with men on. Stick Loretta down in the basement for a while until he remembers how to hit. I have some creative solutions on Willy Mo as well… This approach will get him a few more atbats once CoCo is back… Put Ortiz at first, Put Youks on third, rest Lowell or put him at Shortstop! Willy Mo DHs. Nixon is in right. Here is a few benefits… Ortiz is going to have to play first in interleague games and the World Series… so you might as well get him some reps in preparation. Lowell will need some days off here and there… or maybe we solve our brutal shortstop problem right now by sitting down Gonzales. Lowell is a gold glover… I’m sure the drop off in D won’t be nearly as big as the increase in O! Of course Willy Mo plays right against lefties and pinch hits for Nixon against lefties. Check Out about that lineup… think we would still have hitting problems?

Crisp – CF

Youkalis – 3B

Ortiz – 1B

Ramirez – LF

Nixon – RF

Varitek – C

Lowell – SS

Pena – DH

Loretta – 2B

Yes, I can definitely see the benefits of that approach. I don’t think Francona will do it (when was the last time a manager did what the fans wanted him to do?), but I think it’s a logical approach. One reason I think they’ll leave Loretta batting second is that he is supposedly a good fastball hitter, and he’ll see fewer curve balls with the speedy Coco on base in front of him. At least that’s what the analysts say. I’m also not so sure I’m ready to give up on Gonzalez at shortstop yet, either. Remember the problems Cabrera had when he came to Boston? He came around. Gonzalez is almost universally recognized as one of the best shortstops in the Majors, and I think he’ll turn it around on D. They didn’t get him for his bat, anyway.

rayman: i’m so thrown by your hypothetical lineup; ok, you take “youks” and send him to third, (where he is he’s got 30 hits, 7 doubles 3(or4 hr’s,and is batting 303) put him on the hot corner where i know he started (but look at him at 1st now) when he’s gotten comfortable at 1st…. then you just take mikey lowell ( 3 hits. 15 doubles, 17 rbi) from third and kind of send mr. doubles out to a kind of nowhere land, then you take papi out of his comfort zone and make him an every day,every inning player you really don’t think that he’d be played more than 1-2 innings(mid game) do you??..(FOR THIS ONE I’D RELLY CHECK WITH THEO, I THINK HE’S PRETTY USED TO DAVID BEING THE D.H.) and oh yeah lowell has a gold glove (at 3rd) but gee, i don’t remember him getting one at ss, they got alex for his glove not his bat, which by the way is picking up as we speak.. if you move trot, you’re screwing with one of the two integral parts of the veteran list (varitek being the other one). I think that when coco makes it back,tito will know what to do, GOD HELP US IF HE TAKES YOUR ADVICE….., as well intened as it might have been.

oh, i was so agitated by raymans commentary that i forgot to say something about tonights game (which he obviously didn’t see). mike lowell is just really producing at the plate; did you “catch” his head 1st plunge to collect that “bunt” in the 1st?? everybody for the most part had a piece of the win…. GO SOX, see ya tomorrow,,,,

why the h*** would tito put papi at first? do you remember what happened to derrek lee? he got run over by a dude half his size and broke his wrist. one bad throw could cost us the season.

SCHILLING, WELLS, CLEMENT,
ALL HAVE TO BE AWARE THAT THEY CONTROL THE AREA OF THE PLATE! THEIR MENTALITY HAS TO

BE THAT OF A YOUNG ROOKIE AND

USE RECKLESSNESS AT TIMES BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE THE STUFF THAT YOUNG TALENTED PITCHERS HAVE! THEREFORE THEY

HAVE TO DRILL BATTERS CLOSE TO

THEIR WEAK SPOTS AND REMEMBER

THAT ONE OF THE BEST SOX’S

PITCHERS JIM LONGBORG SET A

RECORD FOR HIT BATTERS YET HE

WON THE CY YOUNG AWARD!

LETTING THE OFFENSIVE TEAM FEEL COMFORTABLE IS NOT GOING

TO BRING HOME THE WIN! THE ONE

REASON BRONSON ARROYO HAS BEEN

LUCKY AT WINNING IS HE HAS THE

ABILITY TO LET THINGS GO AND

DEVELOPE! HE IS A FREE SPIRIT

THAT KNOWS HIS ABILITY IS LIMITED YET HE CAN CROSS UP

HITTERS WITH HIS UNORTHODOX

APPROACH TO LETTING BATTERS

KNOW HE HE IS JUST THAT! A MAN

THAT WILL LET IT ALL HANG LOOSE!RELAX ENJOY THE GAME AND

KEEP THE BALL LOW AND JAM THE HITTER!

Thanks for shrniag. What a pleasure to read!

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