Rookie Jonathan Papelbon's consecutive saves streak was finally snapped on Friday night, and yet he still earned a win for his efforts. But along the way, during the extraordinary streak, Papelbon joined Dennis Eckersley as the only two closers to go a perfect 20 for 20 in save opportunities.
What Papelbon has done so far this year has been quite remarkable. After going 10-10 in save opportunities to start the season, Papelbon was named the American League Rookie of the Month for April. Then on May 26, when he recorded his 17th save against the Devil Rays, Papelbon set a rookie record for most successful save opportunities to start a season. And with just five more saves, Papelbon will set a new Red Sox rookie record for single-season saves, currently held by Dick Radatz (24).
Presently sitting atop 20 saves, Papelbon is already tied with Rick Aguilera, Jim Willoughby, and Jack Wilson for 24th place on the Red Sox all time saves list. The young closer is on pace for 57 saves this season, which would be a new single-season club record, and good enough for 9th place on the all-time club list.
Papelbon is now tied with three former Red Sox closers who each had 20 saves in season; Rick Aguilera (1995), John Wyatt (1967), and Sparky Lyle (1970). The hard-throwing youngster will soon pass Jeff Reardon (21 in 1990), Dick Radatz ( 22 in 1965) and Bob Stanley (22 in 1984) on the single season saves list. After that -- and likely before the month is over -- Papelbon will incredibly move into the top ten list for single-season saves by a Sox closer.
Here's a look at the Sox single-season saves leaders:
1. Tom Gordon 46 saves in 1998
2. Derek Lowe 42 saves in 2000
T- 3.Ugueth Urbina 40 saves in 2002
Jeff Reardon 40 saves 1991
T- 4. Jeff Russell 33 saves in 1993
Bob Stanley 33 saves 1n 1983
5. Keith Foulke 32 saves in 2004
T- 6. Heathcliff Slocumb 31 saves in 1996
Bill Campbell 31 saves in 1977
T- 7. Lee Smith 29 saves in 1988
Dick Radatz 29 saves in 1964
T- 8. Jeff Reardon 27 saves in 1992
Ellis Kinder 27 saves in 1953
T- 9. Lee Smith 25 saves in 1989
Dick Radatz 25 saves in 1963
T- 10. Derek Lowe 24 saves in 2001
Tom Burgmeier 24 Saves in 1980
Dick Radatz 24 saves in 1962
Moving forward, I will update Papelbon's efforts and chart his progress as he moves up the list. What we are witnessing is extraordinary and quite unique. Papelbon will certainly be a candidate for Rookie of the Year, and quite possibly for the Cy Young Award, as well.
The Red Sox are quite fortunate to have Jonathan Papelbon in their bullpen, and Red Sox Nation is certainly fortunate to be able to bear witness to his remarkable exploits and achievements this season.
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.