Let’s start at the end.
Jonathan Papelbon threw 19 pitches, all of them four-seam fastballs according to the Pitch F/X data. What happened to mixing pitches?
“They were just flat fastballs that weren’t located. Poorly executed pitches on my behalf,” he said. “When you don’t execute your pitch the way you want to, usually in my situation, bad things happen. As you saw tonight, bad things happen.”
Surely people will bang the “Bard should be the closer” drum. That’s fine. He has a 1.01 WHIP and has allowed three homers in 20.2 innings. Papelbon has a 1.15 WHIP and has allowed three homers in 19 innings. Not much difference.
What should be a concern is that Papelbon has struck out only 14 in his 19 innings. He’s not the swing-and-miss guy he used to be.
As for the beginning of the game, Daisuke Matsuzaka appeared to have a disconnect with Victor Martinez.
Matsuzaka had a bizarre postgame press conference. He paused 30 seconds before answering the first question and appeared on the verge of bursting into tears. Two Japanese reporters who have followed his entire career said they had never seen anything like it.
“I can’t even find the words,” Matsuzaka said.
But he did manage to say that he thought he should have thrown more fastballs. When I asked Victor Martinez why that was, he gave an interesting answer.
“He’s the one,” Martinez said. “I’m just back there trying to help him go through the game. At the end he’s the one who has the ball in his hand. I’m just behind the plate trying to help him. At the end, he’s the one who has the last word. He’s the one who has the ball in his hand. I just put down suggestions and he can say yes or no.”
Martinez said it was “maybe” the most Matsuzaka has shaken him off. Clearly there is some issue there that needs to be addressed.
A few other observations:
* The Red Sox need Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury back in the outfield soon. There were three balls tonight that well could have been caught including Brett Gardner’s double in the ninth.
* Tim Wakefield, who has not won a game since last July 8, deserved a better fate after tossing 2.1 near-perfect innings.
* The Red Sox rotation has a 5.16 ERA. If there is any one problem this season, that is it. Enough with the “they need a bat” business. The Sox are at .270/.350/.455. They’re scoring plenty of runs. The pitching needs to be addressed.
Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow.