Papelbon has one to savor
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball suspended Jonathan Papelbon for three games yesterday, punishment for bumping umpire Tony Randazzo after being ejected Saturday.
Papelbon immediately appealed, which allowed him to come out of the bullpen in left field several hours later to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd at Yankee Stadium.
He loved every second of it.
The save Papelbon recorded in the ninth wasn’t perfect. But it helped give the Red Sox a 6-4 victory over the Yankees and the closer a piece of history he will cherish.
Papelbon became the quickest pitcher to 200 saves, reaching the milestone in 359 games, 23 earlier than Yankees legend Mariano Rivera.
“I think I’ve said this 100 times, I’ve always called him the godfather. That’s what he is: he’s the godfather of this role,’’ said Papelbon after the Sox moved into a virtual tie for first place in the American League East with the Yankees. “He’s the one that has made this role what it is today. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
“I have a special relationship with him because of that simple fact. Today I’m here because Mariano made this role what it is.’’
Papelbon walked leadoff hitter Brett Gardner, then allowed an RBI single with two outs by Jorge Posada. With Alex Rodriguez at the plate as the tying run, the fans started to percolate.
But Papelbon reached back for a 97-mile-per-hour fastball that an overmatched Rodriguez swung through.
“That’s what he does, he makes sure the game gets over,’’ right fielder J.D. Drew said. “I know we all appreciate him. It takes a special kind of player to do that job.’’
Papelbon, who typically does not put his accomplishments into historical perspective, acknowledged that the milestone meant something to him.
“I’m excited about it. It’s something that I take pride in,’’ he said. “This game will definitely hold an extra little special something in my heart.’’
The question now is when he serves his suspension. Papelbon is hoping to get his punishment reduced because Randazzo, he feels, antagonized him by approaching the mound.
“It was a situation where both of the parties were guilty. I was guilty just as much as Randazzo,’’ Papelbon said. “Maybe we can meet somewhere in the middle.’’
A few days off could help Papelbon, who has allowed nine runs in his last 6 1/3 innings. The date of the appeal has not been set. But Papelbon is prepared to sit out a few games.
“There’s consequences for what you do on the field,’’ he said. “I hope that the next time it doesn’t escalate the way it did.’’
There could be consequences of a different kind when the teams meet again tonight. Sox starter Jon Lester (8-2) hit two Yankees in the first inning, knocking Mark Teixeira out of the game with a bruised right knee.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi also took offense at David Ortiz flipping his bat and taking a leisurely stroll around the bases after belting a two-run home run off rookie Hector Noesi in the fifth inning.
“I didn’t care for it,’’ Girardi said.
The Yankees have bigger problems than Ortiz. The Sox are 6-1 against their rivals this season and have won 11 of 14 going back to last season.
The Sox had only seven hits, but five were for extra bases. They scored three runs in the first inning off Freddy Garcia (4-5).
Jacoby Ellsbury lined the fifth pitch of the game into the right-field seats, the ball flying right at the “Bleacher Creatures’’ during their traditional derisive chant about the Red Sox.
“Just got a good pitch and turned on it,’’ said Ellsbury, who has seven homers, two shy of his career high.
Dustin Pedroia drew a walk, then scored on a triple by Adrian Gonzalez, his second of the season. Gonzalez scored when Kevin Youkilis drove a fly ball to deep left field for a sacrifice fly.
It was 3-0 in a matter of four batters.
Garcia walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia to start the second inning. Drew followed with a single and Pedroia with a two-out RBI double to left.
It was the fifth extra-base hit and sixth run batted in seven games against the Yankees this season for Pedroia.
Lester managed to squeeze out six innings. He allowed three runs on eight hits with one walk, five strikeouts, and the two hit batters.
“This is a tough lineup. If you make any mistakes, they’re going to make you pay,’’ Sox manager Terry Francona said. “If he came out of that game with a win, that’s good enough.’’
Papelbon had a lineup card and the ball he struck Rodriguez out with in his locker after the game. They eventually will find a place in a trophy case that has yet to be built at his home in Mississippi.
“I’ll think about this for a little but tonight and tomorrow just move forward,’’ he said. “Just keep doing what I’m doing.’’