Though Papelbon is 7-for-7 in save opportunities this season, he has had quite a few laborious outings along the way.
Slowly but surely, Papelbon -- who has worked a lot on mechanics the past few weeks -- feels that things are clicking back in for him.
"I feel like it's steadily getting better with my delivery now," Papelbon said. "I'm just steadily climbing that hill to get better and better. I'm just staying back and driving with my legs."
Papelbon's fastball was as explosive on Monday night as it has been all year.
"I had four days of rest," Papelbon said. "That may have had something to do with it."
In fact, the rest was one of the biggest reasons Red Sox manager Terry Francona went to Papelbon for five outs to preserve the 6-4 win over the Yankees. Though Papelbon is no stranger to the eighth inning, he doesn't enter in that juncture unless there are two outs.
"We really like to use him for four outs more than five," Francona said. "I just think if anything doesn't go perfect, you're looking at a long outing. Saying that, he hadn't pitched in four days. When I say we had a lot invested in that game, that probably sounds a little bit rash, but it was a long night, we'd played a good game, Lester pitched good, we've got a guy that's sitting down there for four days. So if there was ever a time, [Monday was it]."
Though Takashi Saito, who already has two saves this season, would be the most logical candidate to pitch the ninth inning on Tuesday, Francona said that the nod could also go to Hideki Okajima or Manny Delcarmen.
Ramon Ramirez, who entered Tuesday with a 0.59 ERA and worked for the fourth straight day on Monday, was also out of action for Tuesday.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.