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    Sunday, August 9, 2009

    Where in the World is Jonathon Papelbon?

    Here is the scenario. You have been held scoreless in 31 straight innings. Literally, you have not scored one run in what amounts to 3+ full games of baseball. The superstar you just traded one of your top pitching prospects for comes up to bat with a runner on 1st. He takes the opposing pitcher deep to give your team a 2-1 lead. You've already lost the first three games of the series and have fallen behind your arch rival by 5.5 games and with a loss would fall behind by a seemingly insurmountable 6.5 games. With a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th inning, your well-rested superstar closer in the pen, what do you do?


    Jonathon Papelbon has not worked for the Red Sox since his one inning stint in Friday nights marathon game which the Red Sox lost in 15 innings. Sure, he has not been lights out this season, but he is your big game guy. He is the guy you hand the ball to when you NEED to win games and boy did the Red Sox ever need to win this game.

    Instead, Terry Francona brought in Daniel Bard to pitch the eighth inning. Bard retired the first two hitters he faced and then gave up back to back home runs to Johnny Damon and Mark Texiera to give the Yankees the lead 3-2.

    Still not going to the bullpen for his closer, Tito decided to go with Hideki Okajima who proceeded to give up a double to Jorge Posada and followed by a base hit which drove in two more runs to improve the lead to 5-2. Still no Papelbon!!

    So what now? The Red Sox lose 5-2, have been swept by the New York Yankees and have fallen 6.5 games back of the Evil Empire in the race for first place. They are barely holding off the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays and the team is basically for all intents and purposes in shambles.

    Is there a silver lining to this mess? I would say, YES. The pitching (aside from Smoltz on Thursday night) has actually been pretty good this series. We held the Yankees scoreless through 14 innings on Friday night, gave up just 3 runs through seven innings on Saturday and tonight held them scoreless through seven. All a pretty good accomplishment against one of the most prolific and highest paid line-ups in baseball.

    If the Red Sox bats ever wake up and start to hit again, all will not be lost during this '09 season. But for the time being, we will have to endure more and more offensive duds until the bats get back on track and the Red Sox can gain some ground on the always surging New York Yankees.

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