Quick to respond

Efficient Papelbon made sure to slam the door

Kevin Youkilis wasn’t pleased after getting hit by an Edwin Jackson pitch in the fourth. Kevin Youkilis wasn’t pleased after getting hit by an Edwin Jackson pitch in the fourth. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)
By Ben Collins
Globe Correspondent / August 11, 2009

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Jonathan Papelbon didn’t want to waste any time. The Red Sox had flown back from New York Sunday night with six straight losses, four at Yankee Stadium, their flight delayed and full of real, non-metaphorical turbulence. Papelbon said he didn’t feel any urgency around Boston for the Red Sox to get a win, but he was sure there was some.

So he wanted to be quick.

“I just wanted to go out and do a good job, play good, give it 100 percent, play hard,’’ Papelbon said hurriedly, punctuated with a laugh.

He just wanted to get out of Fenway Park as fast as he could. And his performance showed it.

Papelbon tossed 11 pitches - seven for strikes - in his four-out save, closing out a 6-5 win over the Tigers.

“It’s not bad. I didn’t burn too many pitches,’’ said Papelbon.

Papelbon entered in the eighth with the Tigers threatening to take the lead. Ramon Ramirez had allowed a leadoff double to Magglio Ordonez and hit Brandon Inge with the next pitch. A Gerald Laird bunt moved them over. One strikeout later, Papelbon entered to face Curtis Granderson.

“I thrive on those types of situations, where the other team is looking down at the bullpen at me, hoping I don’t come in,’’ said Papelbon. “It’s always a pleasure.’’

He made quick work of Granderson, who popped to Victor Martinez in front of the backstop on the second pitch.

It was Papelbon’s first four-out save since May 4 at Yankee Stadium.

“I don’t think any different than usual. I just had come in at a game-defining point,’’ said Papelbon.

In the ninth, Papelbon got Placido Polanco to fly out on the second pitch, struck out Marcus Thames swinging in five pitches, and got Miguel Cabrera to fly to right to end the game.

The Red Sox closer has pitched in just three games in August - due in part to the lack of save situations - but he has only allowed one batter to reach base since his three-run blown save against Oakland July 28.

The rest of the bullpen had been experiencing troubles. One night after Daniel Bard, the Red Sox’s other touted shutdown reliever, blew a lead and took the loss, Manny Delcarmen gave up the tying double in the seventh. When manager Terry Francona called on Papelbon to strand Ramirez’s two runners, Papelbon said he was at his best, and that he could’ve gone six outs if needed.

“He had two days off, rest, matchups. It was a lot of things,’’ Francona said. “Once we got by Everett, [Papelbon] just seemed to make sense.’’

With the Red Sox making up a game on the Yankees, Papelbon is ready to put last weekend behind him. Fast.

“This division, with us and the Yankees, it’s like a heavyweight title fight,’’ said Papelbon. “We lost a few rounds. We’ve still got a few rounds to go. But nobody’s thrown the knockout punch yet.’’

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