In 7-6 Win, Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox Remind Us That It’s Still May

In 7-6 Win, Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox Remind Us That It's Still May Done. Cooked. Stick a fork in 'em. Season's over.

That was the sentiment among many pessimistic fans regarding the Red Sox after they suffered a backbreaking defeat on Monday. Or so we thought.

If it was truly backbreaking to come back from a 5-0 and 6-1 hole, only to lose on two homers in the ninth, then they probably wouldn't have pulled off their five-run comeback just one night later. But they did, and we all got a reminder that in the month of May, there's no such thing as a must-win, and there's no way one loss can sink the spirits of an entire team.

At least not when it comes to this team. If we've learned anything from them this week, it's been that despite all the criticisms of the lack of "electric" superstars, this team has plenty of character. Leading the charge has to be Jonathan Papelbon.

If you believe everything you hear, you'd have thought the closer's career came to an unceremonious end when he served up home-run balls to Alex Rodriguez and Marcus Thames. So when he came in Tuesday night, after the Sox had battled back to take a 7-5 lead, more than a few Red Sox fans watched with wary eyes.

None of that seemed to bother Papelbon, who looked as focused as ever — even after Marco Scutaro let a routine ground out get by him to bring the tying run to the plate. The closer didn't flinch, either, when Robinson Cano took a pitch that was well off the plate and smoked it into left field, putting the tying run in scoring position.

Papelbon kept his cool, which paid off with runners on first and third and one out, when Juan Miranda – he of 37 career plate appearances before that one — sent a shot up the middle. Papelbon stabbed it, looked to second, looked Cano back to third and got a huge second out. He then got Randy Winn swinging just after the clock struck midnight — and with it, the Red Sox completed a major character victory.

The victory was deemed unattainable just hours earlier, yet despite the Yankees getting exactly what they wanted out of CC Sabathia (one run over seven innings), the Red Sox overcame a 5-1 deficit against Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera.

In his first appearance since earning a blown save via grand slam, Rivera took the loss, but it would hard to put too much blame on him. He did, essentially, do his job by getting Scutaro to pop out to right, which Thames could not handle. Then again, he gave up a single to Darnell McDonald and a sharply hit ball by Jeremy Hermida. You can say Winn was playing far too shallow out in left, but the stat sheet tends to overlook the details.

So where does that leave the Red Sox? Still in fourth place, with a long, long way to go. But the past two nights can keep things in perspective. One loss in May can be disappointing, but it can't be devastating, and likewise, a win is just one of many. The Red Sox need to start picking up some of the latter in bunches, but thanks to Tuesday night's effort, they know they can.

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