BOSTON The good news is that Bobby Jenks now knows what the problem has been. The bad news is that he didnt figure it out until after Sundays game, a 3-2 Red Sox win over the Mariners at Fenway Park, featuring another Jenks meltdown.
This one came at the expense of a win by Tim Wakefield, who left with a 2-0 lead, two outs, and a runner on first in the sixth inning. Jenks, charged with getting just one out, faced five batters, giving up a single and three straight walks, allowing two runs to score before getting the final out.
Well, if there is a good note, I was looking at video and I am mechanically off, Jenks said. So, with this hopefully it's a quick fix, because everything's there. We're talking a few inches here and, obviously, it can make a big difference out on the field. I've always been a guy who's been known for throwing strikes and my walks have been low. So this is very uncharacteristic and we found the reason why.
The person who helped him figure it out?
Wakefield, Jenks said. He picked up on it right away, too.
On Friday night, Jenks allowed the Mariners to score two runs in the seventh inning, getting charged with a blown save, and a loss. Sunday, he was charged with another blown save, his second. His record now stands at 1-2 with a 9.35 ERA.
Sunday he wasnt throwing enough strikes, manager Terry Francona said. His velocity was better than weve seen. Balls coming out of his hand. I think he was getting mad, but he wasnt throwing enough strikes. Its kind of a trait I guess you appreciate in your players when theyre trying too hard a little bit. You see him and hes trying so hard. Hes grinding and we just need him to get a good inning and get back to relax, and thats a little easier said than done. But were not going run from him. Hes going to help us win a lot of games.
Jenks, likewise, has not run from the tough questions. Asked how he felt after losing the lead Wakefield had given him, Jenks replied:
Feel like expletive. What else can I say?
Pitching coach Curt Young has noticed the right-handers confidence waning.
Hes a guy whos been in situations as a closer with the White Sox and Im sure theres games that got away from him. Hes a guy that has that class to always bounce back, Young said.
I dont think its mechanics. Its just a feel every pitcher gets throwing a baseball and you do, you lose that touch on occasion and guys like him get it back in a hurry.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was behind the plate for Jenks latest outing.
Its tough because Bobby, hes human, Saltalamacchia said. We all can lose confidence. So I think he might have lost a little bit. But hes not going to show it. Hes going to go out there and take the ball every time. I think he had six or seven days without seeing the mound so thats tough. Especially coming from when youre in there every game closing. So I think thats just tough for him. But I think hes just going to have to find a program where he can throw maybe between and not wear himself down, but something that hes comfortable with. But hell be fine.
Jenks acknowledges his confidence has taken some hits.
You know what? It got kicked in the pants a little bit, he said. I've done this long enough, I've had plenty of bad times in my career before that this is something I can bounce back from, because I've done it so many times.
And, now that hes figured out the problem, he can apply a fix -- to both his mechanics and his confidence.
It's just that I'm coming off the ball. But, it's in a way, where it's almost right after I release it. It doesn't feel like I am when I'm out there, but it's completely clear. It's big when you look at the video.
This is a new issue. I've always been very mechanically sound. It's a good thing. This is something that's only going to make me stronger and better for it. I'm going to be putting in work in the bullpen doing all the standard things I need to do to get better and we'll just go from there.
In his first season with the Red Sox, the erstwhile closer knows he has some work to do to win fans into his camp. He heard the boos they were hard to miss that rained down on him as he left the field Sunday.
You know what? The way I'd been pitching, I deserved it, he said. Face it, I stunk. There's no other way around it. There's only one way to go and that's up and that's what we're shooting
Once I'm right, I know what type of pitcher I am and everybody else does, too. Obviously things aren't right right now and now that we've figured it out, we'll put in the extra time and just get things back on track and get 'em right.
It cant be soon enough for Jenks, his team, or his fans-in-waiting.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen