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Snyder typifies bullpen failures; Blue Jays tee off 2nd straight time.

Byline: Bill Ballou

TORONTO - For all of their resources, from the farm system right through John Henry's bulging bankbook, the Red Sox are really not that much different from any other major league baseball team in one respect.

The sooner they get into their bullpen, the better it is.

For the other team.

Boston's middle relievers failed again yesterday for the second time in a row here as the Sox lost to Toronto, 10-2.

It used to be that a tourist could venture up this way and get almost two Canadian dollars for one good, old picture of George Washington. Not these days - it's dollar for dollar - and maybe the Sox are to blame for this fiscal catastrophe. Ever since they started losing on a regular basis here at the start of the 2005 season, the U.S. dollar has been a loser, too.

Yesterday's defeat was the Sox's sixth straight in the series overall and they have lost five straight here in the Rogers Centre.

Could be a confidence thing, you know?

The last couple of games here, the Red Sox's confidence has been shattered by the likes of David Aardsma and Kyle Snyder, and while Aardsma is essentially just getting an extended tryout along with Bryan Corey as Mike Timlin heals, the question remains as it has for a couple of years now - what is Snyder doing on the roster?

He has become a six-run reliever, one of those pitchers a manager can trust in a game only if his team is ahead by six runs, or behind by six runs. In his first appearance of the season, on opening morning in Tokyo, Snyder relieved Daisuke Matsuzaka to start the sixth with Boston holding a 3-2 lead and before you could say Heathcliff Slocumb, Oakland was up, 4-3, as the first two batters he faced went single, home run.

Yesterday, Terry Francona called on Snyder to relieve starter Clay Buchholz to begin the sixth with the Sox behind, but not very much, in a 4-2 game. Snyder walked the first man he faced, Lyle Overbay, threw a wild pitch, then walked Marco Scutaro. Corey relieved at that point, and by the time the inning was over, the Jays had scored six runs.

"We don't point fingers at anyone on this team," Francona said. "We win and lose together. They got into our bullpen (early) and did what good teams do."

Buchholz got the loss in his first start of the season, but didn't pitch all that badly. He hurt himself with a couple of ill-timed walks, got nicked by a couple of scratch hits, and was victimized by an error at a position the Red Sox are normally perfect at, first base.

The error wasn't by Kevin Youkilis, but by Sean Casey, making his first start there in a Boston uniform. In the Blue Jays fourth inning, with one out and the bases loaded, Gregg Zaun hit a grounder to Casey that looked like a double-play ball, but Casey botched it and two runs scored, turning a 2-1 Sox lead into a 3-2 deficit that eventually became 4-2.

Although Buchholz was charged with three earned runs in five innings of work, it could just have been one. On the other hand, he had struggled pitching out of trouble during spring training and was much better at that yesterday.

"My damage control (yesterday) was a lot better," Buchholz said. "I felt comfortable. I felt strong. I felt I could have gone the rest of the game if they wanted me to."

"He kept the game in hand with everything that happened in that (fourth) inning," catcher Jason Varitek said, "and gave us a chance. He had a really strong fifth inning."

It was that fifth inning, a one-two-three inning that ended with a strikeout of Overbay, that stuck in Francona's mind.

"Some of the changeups and curveballs he threw, you won't see better ones anywhere," the manager said. "He was asked to do a lot in that (fourth) inning and lost his command a little, but he was able to get it back."

Which means, in the future, Buchholz will probably get the chance to work into the sixth, seventh or even eighth. Anything to make sure that guys like Snyder don't wind up in the game with the score reasonably close.



CUTLINE: Boston's Kyle Snyder waits to be relieved in the sixth inning, when the Blue Jays scored six runs.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 6, 2008
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