Papelbon looked all-too human

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This entry was posted on 9/10/2008 7:10 AM and is filed under uncategorized.

Even Superman stumbles over his cape every once in a while, and Boston’s bullpen superman did just that in a prime opportunity Tuesday night.

Sox RHP Jonathan Papelbon was staked to a one-run lead in a pivotal Tuesday contest against the Tampa Bay Rays with first place in the AL East on the line – and the three-time All-Star did something he very rarely does and didn’t do all last postseason: he blinked. in an eventual 5-4 Sox loss.

Working for the third night in a row after finishing off a meaningless 7-2 ballgame in Texas Sunday afternoon, the 27-year-old power right-hander didn’t have crispness or command in a game that could have catapulted the Sox into first place. The defeat marked Papelbon’s fifth blown save of the season and fourth loss in what’s been another dominant season for the Riverdancing reliever.

“We’re going to fight and grind, especially here at home,” said Papelbon. “It’s obviously tough to lose. We still got a long season left, we’ve got a lot of games left.

“This one game is not going to determine whether we’re going to make the playoffs or whether we’re going to be a playoff team or whatever you want to say,” added the Sox closer. “One game out of the season is not going to determine that.”

Rather than get beaten on a hanging slider or a flat split-fingered fastball, Papelbon has gone more exclusively with his bread-and-butter fastball in tight ballgames as of late. For the most part sticking with the heat has worked as attested by no earned runs in 20 1/3 innings pitched headed into Tuesday night.
Showcasing the heat two nights in a row against a savvy Tampa Bay lineup, however, might have led to some of the problems.  

“Lately I’ve been throwing my fastball a lot and it’s been working. It’s been successful,” said Papelbon, who had saved 15 in a row heading into Tuesday night’s buzzsaw. “I went to try to do that same thing again tonight and I just mislocated and misfired some balls tonight. That’s going to happen.

“There’s a human factor involved in this thing,” added Papelbon. “We are human. We are going to make mistakes. Yeah, I’m human and I didn’t throw the pitch where I wanted to tonight. What can I say?”

Sox fans reliant on their fastball-tossing savior at the back of the bullpen are hoping Papelbon never again admits to being “human” this season after losing a big one in September to the AL East first place Rays.

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