Terry Francona spoke about reliever Eric Gagne's implosion and why closer Jonathan Papelbon didn't get into last night's game during the Sox manager's weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI's Dale and Holley show this afternoon.
"Things started to unfold that made everybody uneasy," Francona said regarding Gagne's eighth inning failure after two men were out. "The base hit's OK, little base hit to left field, but the walks, and out of the strike zone with the hard stuff, that's where it's like, you're on the edge of your seat because you're pulling so hard because we need this guy desperately to go as far as we want to go [in the playoffs].
"Trying to get it correct isn't always the easiest thing to do, and it was a difficult night, believe me. As a fan, it probably makes you crazy. Believe me, when you make your living doing it, it might make you crazier."
So why didn't the manager remove Gagne?
"Well, he got the first two outs. And the one thing we don't want to do, and we've talked about this, even Theo and I, when we got Gagne... I said there's going to be nights where it doesn't go according to the book, and we have to be prepared for that," said Francona. "Because we can't get Pap up in a matter of seconds. We've said that from the very beginning. We're going to have a plan with Pap and we're not going to change it, because we need... again, we've been through all that, we got two quick outs, so if you get Pap up in a hurry, there's a couple of things that can happen. One is, he [Gagne] can give up a base hit before you get to Pap and all of a sudden it's a tie game and now you've rushed Pap and you've got a tie game on the road, which is no good. The other thing is, we want Gagne to get out of it. It didn't work... I take responsibility for that. ..."
"We wouldn't send him out there just to be stubborn, we're sending him out there because of what is in there, and what he can do for us. Again, our goal is big and long term and sometimes it's hard to see that, what do they say ... the forest through the trees. We gotta try to do things to further our chances. And last night was a step back, for sure, but you can only hang your heads for a couple of minutes, then you gotta pick it back up and get right back at 'em."
Any second-guessing on the game now that Francona's had time to reflect on last night's moves?
"No. No. We had it drawn up. It didn't work. We were very excited about the chance to get Eric in that situation and again, if you're excited to get him into that situation, you don't want to be excited to get him out. Was I sitting there kind of on the edge of my seat? Yeah, sure. And was not very happy with the results. But we wanted to get him in that situation."
Francona also said that Bobby Kielty would get the start in left field tonight, and Coco Crisp and Kevin Youkilis would both be out of the lineup along with Manny Ramirez.