I can think of few things more depressing in Red Sox baseball nowadays than having to watch Jonathan Papelbon blow a save. One of those few things, however, is watching Jonathan Papelbon blow a save while worrying that he's hurt.
I, for one, am worried after that top of the ninth. Every pitcher has his bad days, and even Papelbon blew at least one save last year--but with a kid that was pumping 97-mph heat with wicked movement in there a week ago and topping 95 just the other day, seeing him unable to top 94 and hovering mostly between 91 and 93 with practically no control whatsoever is enough to have me reaching for the barf bag. Especially now that I think back on his last appearance, the roughness of which I had attributed to rainy weather at the time.
It wasn't just the home run. He also issued two walks in one inning when his season total is four, and gave up two hits when his season total is five. Something was clearly very wrong tonight.
The diminished velocity did not escape the notice of the broadcast booth, either. After a while I grew irrationally angry with Don Orsillo for reading off the velocity after every pitch. "Stop saying it!" I yelled at the TV at one point, as if that would make a difference.
I could care less about today's game and the blown save at this point. What I'm worried about is whether Jonathan is healthy. The entire equation of this team, 1 through 25, let alone the bullpen and the pitching staff, changes drastically if we lose him. The entire complexion of the season changes.
I'm hoping I feel like a silly worrywart after the next time I see him...but in the meantime, anybody know any voodoo rituals? Wiccan incantations? Now that I think of it, who's the patron saint of the right arm?