It’s all on Jonathan Papelbon. Terry Francona was right to leave John Lackey in the game in the ninth inning. He had thrown only 91 pitches and retired six straight.
Then he was right to bring in Papelbon after Jose Bautista homered. The correct move there is to bring in the closer. Lackey had his chance to finish the game, he missed that chance and now you go to the closer. That’s what any manager would do.
Four hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly later and the Sox had one of their worst losses of this or any other season. The clubhouse was as quiet as a wake.
Papelbon said after the game that he left too many pitches up and that his fastball had no life. He offered no excuses.
That’s six blown saves, the most in his career. It also was the first time he has been removed from a tied game in the middle of an inning as a reliever. His peripherals are not good this season when compared to what he has done in the past.
If you tell me you want Daniel Bard as the closer, I can’t argue. I can say, however, that making a dramatic switch like that with the team only four games out of a playoff spot with 46 games to play may not be great timing.
Papelbon has said in the past he wants to be paid like one of the best closers in the game and would seek a contract that reflects that. But at the moment, he may not be the best closer on his own team.
Today was one blown save that hurts beyond one game in the standings. The Sox are headed to the airport now, all that momentum left behind.
It’s hot in Texas and it just got hotter.