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Jenks isn’t given a free pass

Bobby Jenks was feeling the pressure in the sixth, allowing the Mariners to tie the game on a single and three walks. Bobby Jenks was feeling the pressure in the sixth, allowing the Mariners to tie the game on a single and three walks. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)
By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / May 2, 2011

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While Tim Wakefield and Carl Crawford where showered with adulation after yesterday’s 3-2 victory over the Mariners, that was not the case for Bobby Jenks.

The big righthanded reliever was subjected to scorn from the Fenway Park crowd of 37,079, booed off the field after allowing Seattle to tie the game, 2-2, in the sixth inning on one hit and three consecutive walks in relief of Wakefield. It was the first time in Jenks’s career he had issued three consecutive free passes.

So the crowd’s reaction was understandable.

“You know what? The way I’d been pitching, I deserved it,’’ said Jenks, who was charged with the loss and a blown save Friday night after giving up a pair of runs in a 5-4 setback to the Mariners. “Face it, I stunk. There’s no other way around it. There’s only one way to go and that’s up and that’s what we’re shooting for.’’

Jenks’s tailspin yesterday cost spot starter Wakefield a win after he shut out the Mariners over the first five innings. Wakefield gave up a two-out single in the sixth to Ryan Langerhans, and Jenks came into the game to face catcher Miguel Olivo.

Jenks had good velocity on his fastball but was unable to locate it, giving up a single to Olivo, uncorking a wild pitch, and then loading the bases on a walk to Justin Smoak.

Jenks walked in two runs with free passes to Jack Cust and Luis Rodriguez. He got out of the inning when Michael Saunders lined to Crawford, who took some of the heat off Jenks with his walkoff single to center with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

“I don’t think he had a feel for his fastball,’’ said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “He kept trying to go to it, but there’s days where guys just don’t have that feel. But he bounced back and got us out of that inning. It was a tough situation to get us out of, for sure.’’

In his last seven appearances, Jenks has pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 13 hits and seven walks. “If there is a good note, I was looking at the video and I am mechanically off,’’ Jenks reported, though pitching coach Curt Young said Jenks’s struggles have more to do with a loss of touch.

“He lost his touch a little bit and he never really got back into the counts,’’ Young said. “He’s got great stuff. I don’t think it’s mechanics. It’s just a feel, really, every pitcher gets throwing a baseball. You lose that touch on occasion and guys like him get it back in a hurry.’’

Jenks said his mechanical flaw involved “coming off the ball,’’ and was confident it could be quickly addressed.

“When you pitch, you want to keep your shoulders square to home plate and, basically, drive your forehead toward the catcher,’’ he said. “Right now, I’m taking my head towards our dugout. That’s what I mean when I say I’m coming off the ball.

“Hopefully it’s a quick fix, because everything’s there. We’re talking a few inches here and, obviously, it can make a big difference out on the field. I’ve always been a guy who’s been known for throwing strikes and my walks have been low, so this is very uncharacteristic and we found the reason why.’’

Now it’s a matter of making the fixes.

“Once I know I’m right, my confidence will be right back,’’ Jenks said.

Yesterday, even though his confidence took quite a beating, Jenks got a vote of confidence from manager Terry Francona.

“Just need him to get a good inning and get back and relax,’’ Francona said. “That’s a little bit easier said than done. But we’re not going to run from him. He’s going to help us win a lot of games.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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