Considering his demonstrative behavior on the mound it would seem hard to believe that Jonathan Papelbon has flown under the radar. But with fans oogling over the team's offense – led by newcomer Adrian Gonzalez, a resurgent Jacoby Ellsbury and scrappy team leader Dustin Pedroia — the performance of the Sox closer has quietly gone overlooked.
Papelbon continued to impress this week, making three appearances out of the bullpen and picking up two wins and a save. For his efforts, Papelbon is the Amica Pitcher of the Week award recipient.
Pap was perfect in his first appearance of the week on July 31 in Chicago. Hoping to shut the door on Boston's 5-3 lead over the White Sox, Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth inning by striking out the side to earn his 24th save of the year. The win capped a 20-6 month for Boston, the squad's best July in franchise history.
The closer continued his strong work on the mound by picking up back-to-back wins Tuesday and Wednesday, though Papelbon should probably thank Ellsbury for that. On Tuesday against Cleveland, Papelbon pitched another perfect ninth inning, not allowing a walk or a hit and striking out a batter. In the bottom of the frame Ellsbury delivered with a single that scored Jarrod Saltalamacchia from second as the local nine won 3-2.
The next night proved to be deja vu. Pap again was perfect in the ninth inning, surrendering no hits or walks and striking out one hitter. Ellsbury's solo home run over the center field wall gave Boston another walkoff victory and earned Papelbon his fourth win of the season.
Papelbon's flawless week — three innings pitched, no hits, no walks, no runs, five strikeouts — continues what has been a dominant stretch for the 6-foot-4 righty. In his last eight appearances on the mound, the closer has surrendered only one hit and struck out 10 while not allowing a run. Pap has been nearly unhittable since June 10, sporting a 1.83 ERA in 20 appearances.
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