Francona satisfied with Red Sox bullpen

Francona satisfied with Red Sox bullpen
August 4, 2011, 10:10 pm
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By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Sox manager Terry Francona isnt fond at all of ranking the best of justabout anything. The best bullpen hes ever had and if the current squad ranksanywhere at the top of that list is something he doesnt want to touch with aPesky Pole-sized object midway through a season.

I dont know. Were in August. Ill tell you when the season is over.Thats hard to do. I dont have any interest in going back to 2004, saidFrancona. Were just trying to win games. Weve had some good bullpens here,and when we havent thats when weve lost.

The Sox skipper will do his assessing, judging and ranking once theseason has ended and the baseball team has learned its ultimate fate, but onething he is pretty happy with is the two left-handers working out of hisbullpen. The Sox have had Javy Lopez, Billy Wagner and Alan Embree in theiremploy over the years among other southpaws, but Franklin Morales and RandyWilliams have given Francona all kinds of flexibility to utilize a relief corpsthats deep, talented and leads the American League with a .232 batting averageagainst this season.

FranklinMorales comes in and blows through two innings. Anytime somebody stays out forthe second inning theres a pretty good chance that hes throwing the ballreally well. First of all his pitch count didnt go up and he didnt give upany runs, so we wanted to send him out.

With Randy Williams the times that hes given up runs have been whenweve lengthened him out and hes had to face left-handers. Its probably nothis main role. So if his ERA is higher than it should be that doesnt mean hecant get left-handers out.

The Sox relievers have given up one hit in their last 4 13 innings ofwork in two wins against the Cleveland Indians, and theyve struck out sevenTribe batters while simply dominating both contests.

There have been plenty of contributors to the Sox bullpen ERA thatranks fifth in the AL with a 3.49 mark, but its pretty clear that things end up with the seeminglyinvincible 1-2 punch of Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. Matt Albers has slidinto the role tailored for Bobby Jenks as a bit of a bullpen wild card, and theSox bullpen is winning ballgames while a tattered starting rotation regains itsfooting.

Youre going to lose the occasional game, but you wake up the next dayand you have a semblance of order. You just need to get to Bard and Papelbonand thats helpful, said Francona. I think Papelbon has been terrific. Waycloser to the Pap that we saw his first year here. Way more command on hisfastball and finish on it when throwing the split. Hes been terrific.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.