No, it wasn't a save opportunity and no, by this point in the season, the Boston Red Sox no longer need a 'clutch' performance out of their star closer, but that photo above depicts Jonathan Papelbon at perhaps the sad nadir of his career. Called on to pitch the ninth inning with his team in a 5-1 hole against the resurgent Orioles last night, Paps allowed the following:
- B. Roberts singled to shallow center
- N. Markakis singled to left, B. Roberts to second
- T. Wigginton singled, B. Roberts to third, N. Markakis to second, B. Roberts scored, N. Markakis to third, T. Wigginton to second on third baseman A. Beltre's fielding error
- L. Scott singled to shallow left, N. Markakis scored, T. Wigginton to third
- T. Wigginton scored, L. Scott to second on wild pitch
- M. Wieters fouled out to third
- A. Jones singled to shallow left, L. Scott to third
- F. Pie grounded out to pitcher, L. Scott scored, A. Jones to second
- R. Andino struck out swinging
Heck, I haven't seen that many singles since I visited your kid sister at her new job. Papelbon's ERA this year is verging on 4.00, his strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up. One more blown save and he'll match the total of the two previous seasons combined. Fella's a ripe thirty years old, so maybe he doesn't like to be rushed in his old age.
Will the Red Sox bring him back next year, or ship him off for some spare parts and turn to young fireballer Daniel Bard as closer of the future? As a Yankees fan, I say keep Paps, so that should pretty much inform you how much confidence I'd have in that chucklehead. Rid thyself of the scourge and let young Bard shine!