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Asking, And Answering, The Question: Why Did Papelbon Pitch The 7th Inning?

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Late Wednesday night, I received a frantic message from another friendly SB Nation editor: "I HAVE NO CABLE WHY IS PAPS IN IN THE SEVENTH."

Since I was watching Top Chef a super-manly sporting event, this was news to me, so I frantically brought up the box score. And sure enough, there it was: "Bottom of the 7th -- Pitcher change: Jonathan Papelbon replaces Ramon Ramirez." Granted, Papelbon pitched a scoreless inning on just 13 pitches, but this was the first time since 2005 that he had thrown in a regular season game in the seventh.

The Red Sox' closer has had his struggles over the past month, so it begged some (very reactionary) questions: had Terry Francona made the change that many see coming, and named Daniel Bard his man for the ninth inning? Were the days of Papelbon's Irish jig over? Was it time to freak out??!? In short: no.

Turns out Papelbon just had too many days off recently.

"I talked to Pap before the game. He needed to pitch tonight. It was once in the last seven or eight days. So when we got to that inning, we can try to play it traditionally but if we go through the heart of the order, say we bring [Robert] Manuel in then, and it doesn't work, now we've got to go to [Daniel] Bard. We're down four. We really wanted him to pitch and then if we stay in it, we'll not take the temperature but if we want to come back, we can play a little different. It wasn't because the game meant more. He needed to pitch and if we wait or we get ourselves in a bind where we end up using everybody, that didn't make any sense."

As you were.