Since the All-Star break, Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon & Co. had surrendered zero runs in 25 innings. The opponents’ batting average against Boston relievers was a meager .159. All of the focus was on Boston’s anemic bats; no one even considered that the bullpen might be getting gassed.
Enter the Oakland Athletics.
The trouble began in the seventh inning. Boston was up 6-2 when the A’s got a run off Ramon Ramirez. Still, though, when the Red Sox entered the ninth inning with a three-run lead, nobody expected them to leave Fenway Park a couple of hours later with a 9-8 loss on their hands.
Papelbon blew a lead of three runs or more for the first time in his career, and Manny Delcarmen took the loss after giving up the go-ahead runs in the top of the 11th.
After the game, manager Terry Francona had no answers.
“I thought Pap’s stuff tonight was explosive,” he said during Red Sox Extra Innings. “He made a mistake to [Tommy] Everidge, and then we made some mistakes.”
It’s always scary when the club’s strong suits — pitching and defense — betray it. Shortstop Nick Green made two consecutive throwing errors in the top of the ninth, which certainly didn’t help matters. But Francona isn’t blaming him, or anyone else — especially not Delcarmen.
“I thought Manny was a little bit fatigued at the end, and that’s not his fault,” Francona said. “I thought he gave a great effort.”
Starter Clay Buchholz, who threw 5 2/3 innings and left the game with a 5-2 lead, was left with nothing to show for his performance.
“It was just a tough night,” he said after the game. “If the team loses, nobody really cares about how the starting pitcher did. It’s definitely hard to swallow. The team wants to win…. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen the way you think it should or think it will.”
What else can Boston do besides forget about Tuesday and think about how to get back on a roll on Wednesday?
Last time Brad Penny took the mound, Boston was coming off a five-game losing streak. Penny left the park that night with his seventh win of the season.
Hopefully, he can do something similar on Wednesday.
You can watch Francona’s full postgame press conference here:
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