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Sunday, May 1, 2011
Francona 'not going to run from' Jenks

By Gordon Edes

BOSTON -- After a tough weekend for Bobby Jenks, who blew a lead and was saddled with Friday's 5-4 loss, then came in Sunday and blew a two-run lead, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said "we are not going to run from him. He's going to help us win a lot of games.''

While Francona voiced his support, he has cause to consider taking the same approach with Jenks as he did with Carl Crawford when he dropped Crawford to the No. 8 hole in the batting order. Until Jenks gets his act together, Francona might want to avoid using him in a close games -- the preferred term these days is "high-leverage" situations. Matt Albers, who retired all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, has a 1.13 ERA and provides a logical alternative to Jenks, whose ERA now stands at 9.35.

The former White Sox closer gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Miguel Olivo, threw a wild pitch, then walked three batters in succession to force home two runs to tie the score after he relieved Tim Wakefield with one on and two outs in the sixth. When Jenks finally did record an out, the ball was struck hard, Michael Saunders lining to Crawford in left.

Jenks' velocity was the best the Sox have seen all season, averaging more than 94 miles per hour and topping out at 97, according to Brooks by Baseball. "I think he was getting mad,'' Francona said.

But of the 17 fastballs Jenks threw, only five were strikes, just one swinging. Jenks went through one stretch in which he threw 19 consecutive pitches without the Mariners offering at a single one. And you can't say he was missing by the length of the hair on his chinny, chin chin, because after Friday's loss, Jenks shaved off his whisk-broom beard.

Jenks, who was loudly booed as he came off the mound Sunday, told reporters after the game that he had spotted a mechanical flaw that he hoped could be easily corrected. "He just needs a good inning to relax,'' Francona said.

But maybe it would be best, for the time being, if that inning come in less stressful circumstances.