Red Sox: Pap-Squared

For a stretch last baseball season, it seemed as though the typical Red Sox game was a narrow win, relying on a home run from David Ortiz and a save from Jonathan Papelbon. Last night’s game, the sixth of the new season, was close to that pattern, but not necessarily in a very comforting way.

The game was indeed a narrow win. It was 3-2, but perhaps even closer than the score suggests. Papelbon entered the game in the 8th inning, with one out , runners at the corners, and the heart of the Texas order coming up. He got the final five outs without giving up a hit or a walk, let alone a run, with three of the five being by strikeout. All of Boston’s runs came on two home runs by David Ortiz.

So why doesn’t this Red Sox fan find that comforting? The win seemed to rely too heavily on the Pap-squared effect. If either Ortiz or Papelbon is anything short of outstanding, the Sox don’t win, at least not in 9 innings.  Or perhaps it’s because that’s the way some Red Sox fans, including this one, think.

Time for a perspective paragraph. Splitting on the road isn’t bad, and the Sox come home from their first road trip of the season 3-3, without having sustained any major injuries. Ortiz has started hitting. Papelbon once again looks like an outstanding closer. I was regretting his absence from the rotation, where he’d be set to give us ~200 innings rather than about a third of that number, but games like last night’s will help dispel such regrets.

So now the Mariners come to Fenway. Tomorrow is home opener, and Wednesday’s game should start with Ichiro facing Matsuzaka.

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