Jonathan Papelbon, on the other hand, is mowing them down

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Pitching for the third straight day, Jonathan Papelbon turned in a perfect ninth Tuesday against the Twins in Boston’s 4-3 victory, giving him 26 saves in 27 chances.

Papelbon’s ERA remains somewhat inflated at 3.14, but he’s worked scoreless innings in 12 straight appearances.  During that span, he’s allowed just two hits and posted a 12/0 K/BB ratio.

Papelbon hasn’t walked a batter since July 10, and he has a 64/8 K/BB ratio for the year.  If he can keep that up, he’d again join the select list of pitchers to save 30 games and strike out at least eight batters for each one he walked.  Here’s they are:

Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1989): 33 Sv, 55/3 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1990): 48 Sv, 73/4 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1991): 43 Sv, 87/9 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1992): 51 Sv, 93/11 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (Cards, 1996): 30 Sv, 49/6 K/BB
Doug Jones (Brewers, 1997): 36 Sv, 82/9 K/BB
John Smoltz (Braves, 2003): 45 Sv, 73/8 K/BB
Mariano Rivera (Yankees, 2008): 39 Sv, 77/6 K/BB
Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox, 2008): 41 Sv, 77/8 K/BB

Papelbon certainly seems to be in the process of reestablishing himself at the head of the class of this winter’s free agent relievers.  Jonathan Broxton seemed like the cream of the crop a year and a half ago and Heath Bell reigned supreme at the beginning of this year, but Papelbon is throwing the best now from the group that also includes Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Madson and Jose Valverde.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.

Mariners designate Leonys Martin for assignment

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The Mariners made a handful of roster moves on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. The club optioned pitcher Chase De Jong to Triple-A Tacoma, designated outfielder Leonys Martin for assignment, and recalled first baseman Dan Vogelbach and pitcher Chris Heston from Triple-A.

Martin, 29, struggled to start the season, batting .111/.172/.130 in 58 plate appearances. As Divish noted, Martin was very popular with his teammates in Seattle, so the move was particularly difficult. He is owed the remainder of his $4.85 million salary, making it likely that he’ll clear waivers.

De Jong, 23, struggled in 4 2/3 innings of relief, yielding three runs on three hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

Heston, 29, got off to a good start with Tacoma, putting up a 3.18 ERA over his first three starts.

Vogelbach, 24, was hitting .309/.409/.473 with a pair of home runs in 66 PA with Tacoma, encouraging his call-up.