Tuesday, July 22, 2008
LESTER + PAPELBON = SHUTOUT
Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon combined for a 4-0 shutout of the Mariners last night. Lester went the first 7.1 innings, scattering 8 hits. Papelbon got a 5 out save, thanks in large part to a bases loaded double play to end the 8th.
Lester had only thrown 83 pitches after 7 innings, which meant another complete game was possible, and a completed 8th inning likely. But he got in trouble and was rescued by Papelbon after throwing 20 pitches. A Willie Bloomquist line drive off his ankle was another reason for his mid-inning departure.
Francona's use of Papelbon in the 8th is somewhat indicative of how little faith he has in anyone else in the bullpen. Giving Hideki Okajima 3 inherited runners is a terrifying prospect. And using anyone else in that situation is equally as disturbing.
Last year, the Sox were extremely protective of Papelbon in an effort to save his arm for September and October. He made only 4 appearances that were longer than 1 inning. Already this year, he's made 7 such appearances. This hopefully won't be a problem down the stretch. But even if it is, the Sox have been forced to use Papelbon in this way.
Dice-K against R.A. Dickey late Tuesday night.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren