It wasn't simply that Papelbon blew his seventh save of the season and lost for the sixth time, pushing the Red Sox one day closer to the end of a disappointing season without playoff baseball.
It was how he did it — getting caught being a spectator during a key moment of the Chicago White Sox's ninth-inning rally, then blowing it off when a reporter asked him to comment — that really should have gotten the New England blood boiling.
It's possible that a meltdown lasting a career-high 48 pitches is just too long for a guy to pay attention on every play.
Via Pete Abraham on Boston.com's Extra Bases:
Papelbon failed to cover second when the center fielder, shortstop and second baseman converged on a shallow pop that fell in. Carlos Quentin(notes), the tying run, took second and eventually scored on a single.
"He got caught watching. Everybody's going after it and he needs to get back to second," Terry Francona said. "That ends up being huge."
Papelbon dismissed that comment, saying Quentin would have been safe anyway.
Makes a guy want to scream — not "Khaaaaan!" but instead "Papelkhaaaaan!"
And, no, Papelbon's wrong about Quentin being safe regardless.
Checking NESN's replay of the at-bat, Bill Hall(notes) delayed for a moment throwing to Adrian Beltre(notes) because he was so far from the bag. If Papelbon covers second as he should, Hall would have thrown sooner, and there was a decent chance Quentin would have been out. The Red Sox would have won the game.
Instead, the White Sox continued to rally, and swept a three-game series at Fenway for the first time in 19 years.
Papelbon earns nearly $10 million closing games, and probably will seek more at salary arbitration this winter. What are the Red Sox paying for, exactly, if he won't cover a base every once in a while?
On Sunday, Papelbon gave the Boston Red Sox one more reason to let him go this offseason. Unless they want more screaming.
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BLS h/t: @Marc_Normadin of Red Sox Beacon, Baseball Prospectus, et al
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