Reliever Manny Delcarmen‘s season started off incredibly as the righty pitched shutout baseball in his first 14 consecutive innings. However, after racking up a career-high five wins, Delcarmen’s season came to a crashing halt in the final weeks of the regular season.
The native of Hyde Park, Mass., was left off the postseason roster due to the effects from a car accident he was involved in on the way to the ballpark on Oct. 4. Riding pine was very tough for the hurler who had made 64 appearances out of the ‘pen leading up to that final week.
“One of the biggest things was not being able to walk out to the bullpen and do what we normally do every game,” he told NESN’s Heidi Watney during Monday’s edition of SportsDesk. “I wasn’t too happy with it, but at the same time, I had to support to the team and try to get us going again and being a cheerleader. I kept saying, you know whatever it is that’s going to help us get the win. It was kind of tough, but I was there and it was exciting.”
Delcarmen’s injury gave him a very good seat to what turned out to be a very bad ending for the local nine. Delcarmen painfully watched Boston’s ALDS flop where much of the blame for that early exit fell on the lap of closer Jonathan Papelbon.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound stopper closed out 38 games — the second-highest total of his four-year
career as a closer behind last season’s 41 saves. The big righty also had a
1.85 ERA in 66 appearances and walked away with his fourth straight
All-Star nod, but those stats seemed to all be forgotten after his
blunder on the afternoon of Oct. 11.
Entering with two down and a 5-2
lead in the eighth inning, Papelbon gave up a quick two-run single to Juan Rivera
to bring the Halos within one. After a two-out single and a walk in the
top of the ninth, Bobby Abreu‘s double and Vladimir Guerrero‘s single
put the Angels on top for good and sent the Red Sox into the offseason.
“What Paps has done here, you’ve got to give the guy a lot of credit,” Delcarmen said. “Like the way people acted after the last game, it was surprising to me and to a lot of people because of what he has done here. Like I said, he deserves a lot of respect — it’s baseball and stuff happens. He gets it done 99 percent of the time and that was just one game.”
That last image of the Red Sox’ 2009 campaign has been a tough pill for Red Sox fans to swallow. With the emergence of reliever Daniel Bard, many critics have been putting together mock trade packages that would ship Papelbon out of Boston for the likes of a big bat or a reliable arm. Delcarmen feels as though the fan base and the media have been a little harsh on the closer.
“It made him look real bad, but people come to see Pap close out games,” said Delcarmen, who finished the year with a 4.53 ERA and a 5-2 record. “What he’s done, I think he just deserves a little bit more respect. To me, he’s pretty much the top closer close to Mariano [Rivera], and he’s still young and he’s going to come out here next year and do the same thing and close out games.”