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Why Papelbon came on in the seventh

07.08.10 at 1:02 am ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Wednesday night, for the first time since Sept. 29, 2005, Jonathan Papelbon entered a regular-season game in the seventh inning.

With the Rays holding a 6-2 lead, Red Sox manager Terry Francona called on his closer, who hadn’t pitched since July 2. Here was Francona’s explanation:

“I talked to Pap before the game. He needed to pitch tonight. It was once in the last seven or eight days. So, when we got to that inning, we can try to play it traditionally, but if we go through the heart of the order, say we bring [Robert] Manuel in then, and it doesn’t work, now we’ve got to go to [Daniel] Bard. We’re down four. We really wanted him to pitch, and then if we stay in it, we’ll not take the temperature, but if we want to come back, we can play a little different. It wasn’t because the game meant more. He needed to pitch, and if we wait or we get ourselves in a bind where we end up using everybody, that didn’t make any sense.”

Papelbon pitched a scoreless inning, claiming a strikeout while throwing 13 pitches.

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