Tag: 2007 World Series

Implosion Against Rockies Shows why Red Sox Should Trade Jonathan Papelbon

The last time Jonathan Papelbon faced the Colorado Rockies, it was in the 2007 World Series. He was celebrating then. This time, it didn’t go too well.

I wasn’t all too surprised when the Rockies’ Ian Stewart clubbed a game-tying homer off Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Then a shrug of the shoulders and a shake of the head followed the winning shot by Jason Giambi, an old nemesis when he was with the New York Yankees. Despite this struggle, Papelbon has put up serviceable numbers. It was just his second blown save of the season. Yet, he only had three all of last year. There is no question that something is wrong with him.

His fastball is straighter than usual and has lost some velocity. Bad combination. And the result is 7.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio, down three whole points from last year’s mark. His ERA is 3.64 this season; last year, it was a sparkling 1.85. Hitters are seeing 3.86 pitches per at-bat compared to 4.15 last season, meaning his repertoire lacks unpredictability. Opponents are sitting dead red and teeing off. Overall, he has allowed six homers, one more than last season’s total. If he allows one or two more runs and three more earned runs, he will amass last season’s totals as well. His WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) is its highest since his rookie season.

Daniel Bard, the Red Sox 24-year old flamethrower, pitched one-and-one-third scoreless innings of relief prior to Papelbon’s appearance to begin the ninth. His outing, and its contrast to Papelbon’s, exemplified the differences between the two pitchers. Bard is waiting in the wings. He is Papelbon’s successor, and I believe he should succeed him now. He is much younger, his fastball has six more miles-per-hour attached, and his offspeed pitches are far more effective. This season, he has been their best middle reliever, compiling 16 holds with a 2.13 ERA. He does have four blown saves to his name and has relinquished four homers, but overall his statistics dwarf Papelbon’s.

Papelbon is still an All-Star caliber closer. In basketball terms, he’s just lost a step. But since he is still relatively young and has the ability to rack up saves, he could bring a lot in return if put on the trade market. Boston could at least get a few good young players for his services, preferably an outfielder, a relief pitcher, and possibly a shortstop.

Bard could struggle out of the gate in Papelbon’s stead, but I would rather see him scuffle during the transition than watch someone in decline with value on the trade market serve up bombs. Bard has the tools to flourish in Papelbon’s role. Papelbon no longer does.

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Rockies-Red Sox: Colorado Walks Off With Victory, Looks For Sweep

Jason Giambi earned his paycheck on Wednesday.

The slugger was re-signed in the offseason to provide Todd Helton with a few days off and to provide a big bat off of the bench late in games.

He has struggled throughout most of the season, but he pulled through Wednesday night, hitting a walk-off home run off of Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to give the Rockies a 8-6 victory.

The bomb came two batters after Ian Stewart launched his first home run at Coors Field off of Papelbon. Stewart came into the at-bat with just six hits in June so far. The home run was a long time coming.

Both home runs were no-doubters. Stewart’s bomb was well into the second deck and Giambi’s was high above the stadium, yet still traveled all the way to the facing of the second deck.

The home runs bring a certain amount of revenge for Colorado fans after Papelbon shut the Rockies down three times in the 2007 World Series.

The fact that the Rockies were in the situation late in the game probably came as a surprise to most fans watching the game.

With Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound, it seemed like the score would have been closer to Tuesday night’s game rather than the slugfest that broke out.

Jimenez, who was battling flu-like symptoms throughout the outing, was clearly off of his game. After shutting down the Red Sox for three innings, fatigue set in and Jimenez started laboring.

He nearly got out of a two-on, one out jam, but he hung a two-strike curveball to Daniel Nava, who drove the pitch into the right-center gap, scoring both runs.

In the sixth inning, the pride of Cherry Creek High School, Darnell McDonald, launched a two-run home run that suddenly tied up the game. After John Lackey smoked a double over Carlos Gonzalez’s head, it was clear that Jimenez was batting with his sickness.

This was a night that the Rockies offense needed to bail out their ace. In his only loss of the season, Jimenez gave up only two hits, both of which did not leave the infield.

The 13-1 ace showed his character in the clubhouse after the game. He was sporting his standard smile, fully celebrating the Rockies victory.

It would have been easy for him to be disappointed in his rough outing.

“It’s not about me; it’s about the team,” said Jimenez. “I am happy for them; they picked me up tonight.”

Attitudes like Jimenez’s are what make these Rockies worth rooting for. He is in the midst of a record-setting season and after a setback like Wednesday’s he was not hanging his head and thinking about himself. He was thinking about how grateful he is that the team pulled out the win.

The late-night home runs were especially sweet because it quieted the ridiculously large gathering of Red Sox fans at Coors Field.

The cheers that David Ortiz and others were receiving when they stepped to the plate was sickening for anyone cheering for the Rockies.

The arrogance of the fans supporting Boston at Coors Field has been ridiculous. Very few venues would allow fans to blatantly disrespect their hometown team, especially when a guy who has been having the season that Jimenez is having is on the hill.

Wins like Wednesday night’s certainly will have some Denver residents shedding their red and white in favor of black, purple and silver.

How good has Jimenez been? Even with his six earned runs in 5-2/3 innings on Wednesday, the right hander’s ERA sits at a ridiculously low 1.60. The six runs that he gave up constitutes nearly 50 percent of the runs that he had given up heading into the game.

The Rockies go for the sweep on Thursday night with their hottest pitcher on the mound. Jason Hammel has a chance at breaking Jimenez’s scoreless innings streak. If he can get into the fifth inning without giving up a run, the record will be his.

The Red Sox send Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mound, fresh off of the disabled list. If the Rockies can pull off the sweep, it will go a long way to jump starting their run to the top of the NL West.

They currently sit four games back of the Padres and have a three-game set with them next week.


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This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com.

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