Jonathan Papelbon Reacts to Being Booed by Red Sox Fans

Jonathan Papelbon Reacts to Being Booed by Red Sox Fans

Perhaps it was against Charlie Manuel’s better judgment to remove Cliff Lee from a game where the 2008 Cy Young Award winner had retired 23 consecutive batters and only thrown 95 pitches.

Regardless, Jonathan Papelbon got his storybook ending at Fenway Park on Wednesday – or part of it at least – mowing down the Red Sox 1-2-3 in the ninth inning to earn a save against his former team of seven seasons. We say only “part of it” because the homecoming might not have been received quite as Pap imagined it.

The Phillies closer was mostly booed as he took the mound, this despite reports that the Sox organization did not offer him a contract following the 2011 season, a point the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo raised again after the contest.

If it bothered Papelbon, it didn’t show before or after his outing. The 32 year old continued to look untouchable in ‘13, finishing out a 3-1 victory to convert his 10th save in as many opportunities, and thin-slicing that ERA to 0.92 in the process – you can almost see through that number.

Later on in the locker room he did his best to downplay the mixed crowd reaction, more or less admitting it only gave the alter-ego “Cinco” more fuel. Per Cafardo:

Papelbon said he didn’t mind the boos. He felt it was a sign of respect.

“Felt like the first time I got booed at Yankee stadium I felt like I had made it. I’ve always enjoyed this city and pitching off the mound here. It felt like old times with all the visuals you get. Old times but in a different uniform,” Papelbon said.

Jim Salisbury also indicated Papelbon more or less brushed the response off, the nine-year veteran offering a resigned, “That’s how they love you in this town.”

Papelbon was a four-time All Star in Boston and helped the franchise win its last World Series in 2007. The team apparently didn't even make an offer. Tough crowd.

Sounds familiar.

The fans’ tunes would undoubtedly change were Papelbon sent back to Boston. If the Phils are sellers at the trade deadline, an elite closer like Pap could fetch a fair price on the market. And while his no-trade clause covers the Red Sox, something tells us he could make an exception.

>> Papelbon gets the best of his ‘brothers’ [Globe]

More from Jonathan Papelbon on his 105th save at Fenway:

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

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NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

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Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
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John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).