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.
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: