Caption: Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon doesn’t look on as NYY 3B Alex Rodriguez rounds the bases after touching him for a game-tying two-run home run in the ninth inning. Things only got worse, as RF Marcus Thames would hit a game-winning two-run home run off Pappy moments later.
Tonight’s game in New York is a perfect example of why a closer needs to have a second pitch—and possess the intestinal fortitude to use it frequently enough to interrupt the timing of opposing hitters.
Against New York, Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon threw fastball after fastball, and the Yankees are a good fastball-hitting team. Because he failed to throw his off-speed pitches they were able to sit on his fastball.
The Yankees have apparently figured him out, and it is time for Pappy to make some adjustments. For the second time this season, New York handed Pappy a loss (his only other loss came against Baltimore), but this one seems much worse.
They scored four runs off him in the ninth inning to beat the Red Sox 11-9 in the Bronx. Alex Rodriguez hit a game-tying two-run home run off Papelbon, and three batters later, RF Marcus Thames hit a walk-off, two-run home run.
Pappy has now allowed three home runs this season—all three to the Yankees. It was the first time in his career he allowed four earned runs in one game, and it was the first time in his 282 relief appearances that he allowed two home runs (the only other time he allowed two home runs in the same outing was in his major league debut, a start, in 2005).
It is time for Pappy to make some adjustments when facing the Yankees.
It was a particularly disheartening loss. The Sox fell behind 5-0 and 6-1 as starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was hammered early and often by the Yankees, but by the time he was (mercifully) pulled from the game, his teammates had battled back. Dice-K allowed all seven runs the Yankees scored prior to the ninth inning, surrendering nine hits and issuing three walks in 4.2 IP.
But Tim Wakefield (2.1 IP) and Daniel Bard (1 IP) held the home team in check while Red Sox batters battered Yankees starter Phil Hughes and relievers Boone Logan and Chan Ho Park for nine runs on 12 hits, including five home runs.
Victor Martinez had a pair of solo homers. David Ortiz continued his recent surge, going 2-for-4, with his seventh home run of the year. J.D. Drew had a three run homer, and Kevin Youkilis hit the two-run shot that capped the Red Sox comeback and gave them their first lead of the evening (8-7).
But Papelbon couldn’t hold serve. He gave up a leadoff double to CF Brett Gardner in the ninth inning.
With one out and a Gardner on third, Rodriguez hit the first pitch—a belt-high fastball over the middle of the plate—into the Red Sox bullpen to tie the game at nine apiece. After Robinson Cano flew out, Pappy hit Francisco Cervelli with a pitch. Thames then drove his next delivery—a belt-high fastball over the middle of the plate—into the bleachers in left.
After the game, Rodriguez said: “I think that’s the feeling we had all last year. We are at home, and until the last out is collected we think we’re going to win.”
It helps when the opposing closer throws nothing but fastballs and he grooves two of them over the heart of the plate.
Papelbon made no excuses in the visitor’s clubhouse: “Flat fastballs, poorly executed pitches on my behalf. Usually in those situations bad things happen.”
With the loss, the Red Sox lost their eighth consecutive game at Yankee Stadium, their longest road skid against New York since dropping eight straight from 1960-61.
Martinez became just the sixth Boston player to homer from each side of the plate in the same game. It was the third time he accomplished the feat.
I don’t wanna say I told you so, but I told you so!!
While much of Red Sox Nation and the Boston media was trying to push David Ortiz out of the city, I said Tito should sit him against lefties and put him in situations where he had the maximum opportunity to be successful. Tito did that. Ortiz has responded—just as he did last year. Oh, ye of little faith!
Papi hit his sixth home run of the month—and we are barely past the mid-point.
Mike Cameron (abdomen) isn’t quite ready to return to the team. He could play another rehab game Wednesday at Double-A Portland.
Jacoby Ellsbury (bruised chest) went 1-for-3 and scored twice while serving as the DH in a rehab game with Pawtucket. He is scheduled to continue his rehab assignment with Portland tonight.
It is possible both outfielders could be playing in Portland tomorrow.