It’s ironic that the “sibling rivalry” between Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox reached another level as their interleague showdown shifted to The City of Brotherly Love on Wednesday. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they were once again the weaker family member.
The Red Sox, who were retired in order by Papelbon in Boston on Tuesday, staged a ninth-inning rally against the Phillies closer on Wednesday. But despite getting to the right-hander for a run and putting the potential go-ahead run into scoring position, the rally came up short, and Papelbon once again closed the door to give the Phillies their second straight victory over the Red Sox.
Papelbon wasn’t nearly as dominant in Philadelphia on Wednesday as he was at Fenway Park on Tuesday. It doesn’t really matter, though. He still walked off the Citizens Bank Park mound with his team victorious, which is something that’s inevitably going to feel even sweeter given the circumstances surrounding the current home-and-home set.
“When you’re playing against your brothers, you want to win and it’s fun at the same time,” Papelbon said following the Phillies’ 4-3 win on Wednesday.
Papelbon entered Wednesday’s game with a two-run cushion, and he started the ninth inning in impressive fashion, striking out Jackie Bradley Jr., who saw his first action after being recalled earlier in the day. Things got a little hairy for Papelbon, though, when Stephen Drew strung together a fantastic at-bat and worked an eight-pitch walk.
Momentum seemed to shift back in Papelbon’s favor when he retired David Ortiz for the second straight night. Ortiz, who pinch-hit for Jose Iglesias, got a pretty good pitch to hit, but he got under it and flied out to right field. The momentum shifted right back Boston, however, and the Red Sox refused to go quietly.
Jonny Gomes, who isn’t exactly known for going to the opposite field, shot a base hit the other way to put the potential tying run on base for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury, who played the role of hero on Sunday, did his best to play the role again by hitting a blooper down the left-field line. Domonic Brown probably should have made the play and ended the game right there, but he came up empty after going into a dive. Drew scored, Gomes scampered to third base and Ellsbury cruised into second with a standup double, forcing Papelbon to have to retire Daniel Nava -- who was hitting from his preferred side of the plate — with the game on the line.
Papelbon ultimately took care of business, which speaks volumes about the right-hander. He hadn’t surrendered a run since his first appearance of the season on April 3, and he entered the game on the heels of 18 straight scoreless appearances, during which he was 10-for-10 in save opportunities. Papelbon easily could have let emotions sink in during Boston’s rally, but instead, he harnessed just one emotion — fear.
Fear, according to Papelbon, is what drives him in big situations. And nothing is scarier than failing in front of your family.