It wasn't easy to find a bright spot in the Red Sox' 6-1 loss to the New York Yankees, the team's fifth straight defeat.
The Sox were punchless offensively, being held to two runs or fewer for the seventh time in the last nine games and starter Franklin Morales was pounded for four homers and six runs in just 3 13 innings.
There was a silver lining. His name was Justin Germano.
Germano took over for Morales with one out in the fourth and pitched shutout ball the rest of the way, allowing five hits over the final 5 23 innings while striking out seven and walking just two.
It was his first appearance for the Red Sox, and it resulted in Germano getting a standing ovation as he came off the mound after the top of the ninth.
"He did exactly what he was doing at Triple A,'' said Bobby Valentine, "and I'm glad that it translated here. They said that he had used all of his pitches, thrown strikes and gotten outs
and give you a chance to win. In today's game, he was very valuable in that he was the second pitcher and the last pitcher.''
Indeed, Germano's outing -- excellent as it was -- was also noteworthy since it meant the Sox didn't have to burn the bullpen. On a day in which they were playing a doubleheader, and coming just after a night in which starter Josh Beckett lasted only five innings, there's no telling how important that was.
"I was just trying to go out there and eat as many innings as I could,'' said Germano. "I'm glad I was able to finish it and save the bullpen. It's tough, because you don't want things to
get out of control. You want to just go out there and try to make your pitches and try to keep the score as close as you can and keep your team in there.''
Ordinarily, in a long-relief, mopup stint, pitchers would focus on throwing strikes and making them hit the ball. But against a lineup as fearsome as New York's, such a basic approach has its own dangers, since the Yankees are capable of piling on.
"You want to attack the zone,'' said Germano, "but you have to throw qualilty strikes. You really have to try to keep them off balance and mix it up the best you can.''
The appearance ended a whirlwind week for Germano, who was pitching at Pawtucket but ready to utilize a July 1 opt-out clause in his contract to go elsewhere if the Sox didn't add him to the major league roster.
He flew cross-country Tuesday afternoon, then returned home from Oakland to Boston the very next afternoon before making his Boston debut Saturday.
"I knew it was going to be tough for them to make room for me (on the roster),'' he said. "I honestly didn't think they were going to, but I'm glad they did. It's a great organization to be
a part of and I'm glad I got the chance to come up here and show them what I can do.''