|Jonathan Papelbon: ‘I couldn’t finish the job’||09.06.10 at 8:34 am ET|
[Click here to listen to Jonathan Papelbon explain his ninth-inning meltdown on Sunday.]
Jonathan Papelbon said he wasn’t feeling any ill effects from throwing a career-high 48 pitches during Sunday’s epic ninth inning meltdown at Fenway Park.
His voice said otherwise.
About an hour after his teammates lost an excruciatingly difficult-to-swallow 7-5 game to the hard-charging White Sox, an exhausted Papelbon stood in front of the TV screen in the Red Sox clubhouse with the same look that TV cameras caught him with in the dugout after being pulled. He tried his best to describe how a 5-3 lead with one out to go turned into a 5-5 game in the blink of an eye.
“A walk and a bloop hit,” Papelbon said in a very quiet voice. “I couldn’t finish the job, basically. I came in throwing the ball well and wasn’t able to execute a few pitches I wanted to in the end. I felt fine, physically. I don’t think it had anything to do with the amount of pitches.”
Papelbon has always been a stand-up guy when it comes to answering the bell after a hideous loss. He did it after Game 3 of the ALDS last year at Fenway against the Angels. He did it after the loss on Aug. 12 at Rogers Centre when he also came on to protect a 5-3 lead.
And he did it again Sunday.
“I’m coming in in a situation where every little thing matters,” he said. “Trying to come into a ball game and get the hardest outs of a ball game and every little thing matters. Bloop hit, ball right off the glove. Those things turned into being big things for them.”
So why the meltdown? Was it the 48 pitches or, more specifically, the seven heavy-stress pitches to pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez, the first batter he faced in the eighth inning?
“I think some of it is focus,” Papelbon answered. “For me, I’m able to make adjustments out there from pitch to pitch pretty easily, but I didn’t finish some pitches and out of my delivery on some and fighting to get back.
“I felt myself get out of my delivery a little bit and not finish some pitches. There’s no question it was a long weekend, but tiring and Manny at-bat and all this and that has nothing to do with my performance.”
So after Papelbon threw his 48th and final pitch, it was up to the relievers left in the ‘pen to do something about it, namely Dustin Richardson and Robert Manuel. They didn’t exactly have the major league experience of coming into a situation like this with the game on the line, but no time like the present to learn.
And Papelbon said he didn’t feel sympathy for them, either.
“No, I don’t feel for them. They’re job is to come in there and get outs just like everybody else, and to sit here and say you feel sorry for them coming into that situation — no, I don’t feel sorry for them.”
The Red Sox woke up Monday morning knowing they’re 10 games behind the Yankees and 7 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay in the wild card chase.
“I think we put ourselves in the situation and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Papelbon said. “You just have to go out each day, grind it out and and try to win a ball game. I don’t think that’s going to affect how anybody goes out and plays their game or goes out and win a ball game. You don’t look at the standings every day and let it determine how you’re going to play a ball game by any means.”
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