For the past couple of seasons, Delcarmen has become a cornerstone member of manager Terry Francona's setup crew. Of late, however, he has turned in a string of subpar outings.
Heading into Tuesday night's game against the Royals, Delcarmen has a 21.60 ERA over six September outings, which means that he could be spending these next couple of weeks trying to prove that he deserves a postseason roster berth.
"I'll take the next couple of weeks and pretty much just bust my butt to get where I want to be and be with the team when the time comes for the playoffs and be ready to go," said Delcarmen before Monday's performance, when he was rocked for three hits and four runs over two-thirds of an inning in the Red Sox's 12-9 loss to the Royals. "I've always felt that I have to prove myself a little bit, whether it's early in the year or late in the year. I know what I can do; they know what I can do. It will be up to me."
What has gone awry for Delcarmen?
"When he gets to that balance point, he's got to [not] run away from his arm. It's a lot easier said than done," said Francona. "It's been that way for a while. It's something that he's aware of, [pitching coach John Farrell's] aware of it. We've talked to him. It would be great to get him back on that roll, because he's such a difference-maker in our bullpen."
The Red Sox still remember well the Delcarmen who didn't allow an earned run in his first 11 outings of the season.
"Manny has great stuff, obviously," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "Me, personally, I had a great first part of the year. I kind of really stunk somewhere in the middle and have picked it up as of late. I understand what it's like to go through one of those funks. Everyone has an opinion or this or that. Everybody goes through them. It's just not clicking. I don't think Tito will be hesitant to use him again, because, you know, at any time, he's got that electric stuff and can put it together, and I think everyone has gone through it."
Delcarmen is confident he can get back in a groove.
"I wasn't expecting my September to go the way it's been going," Delcarmen said. "I pitch well, then not so good and back and forth. It's the time for me to strap it on and leave it on the field like I know I can do it and pretty much get that confidence back and hopefully get the ball."
Francona knows the value Delcarmen has when he is going right.
"He has the ability to throw multiple innings, to get lefties out," Francona said. "He's pretty durable. There's a lot of things to like when he's getting people out the way he can."
After being on the postseason roster of every round in 2007 and '08, Delcarmen doesn't want to be left in the cold this October.
"I've been there the last couple of years. I know it's tough for them, because they have to put the best team out there to win," Delcarmen said. "I know they want me there. I've got to, for myself, just go out there and do it."
The Red Sox's magic number for clinching a postseason berth is seven. They lead the Rangers by that many games in the American League Wild Card standings. As far as the AL East goes, Boston trails New York by five games.
In Tuesday's game, the Sox will face AL Cy Young Award candidate Zack Greinke.
"Obviously, we haven't faced him this year, but one of the best in the league, no question," said Bay. "It definitely doesn't get any easier. Most of our schedule is filled with a lot of tough games, and this one is definitely going to be one of them."
BOS: RHP Paul Byrd (1-1, 5.79 ERA)
Byrd scattered nine hits over 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball last Wednesday in a no-decision against the Angels at Fenway Park. The 38-year-old right-hander struck out four while throwing a season-high 97 pitches. In 28 career starts at Kauffman Stadium, the one-time Royal is 10-13 with a 5.20 ERA.
After taking a line drive to his pitching arm in his last start against Detroit on Thursday, Greinke mulled the possibility of missing a start. But Royals manager Trey Hillman said on Saturday that Greinke showed no serious problems with his arm, save for a welt, which was dissipating. Barring any major setbacks, Hillman estimated that Greinke would pitch on his regular rest. In his last outing, the righty stayed in for five innings while pitching scoreless ball to pick up his 14th win of the season. He left as a precautionary measure after being hit by a Miguel Cabrera line drive in the fourth inning. The AL Cy Young Award candidate threw just 77 pitches. Lifetime against the Red Sox, Greinke is 0-2 with a 3.45 ERA in three games (two starts). Tidbits
Bay has a career-high 36 home runs. ... Victor Martinez will try to extend his hitting streak to 21 games, while Dustin Pedroia will attempt to push his to 13. ... The Red Sox are 37-38 on the road. ... Closer Jonathan Papelbon will be rested entering Tuesday's game, as he hasn't pitched since Friday. Tickets
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Wednesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 15-6, 3.80) at Royals (Luke Hochevar, 7-10, 5.79), 8:10 p.m. ET
Thursday: Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 6-3, 3.49) at Royals (Dusty Hughes, 0-1, 4.38), 8:10 p.m. ET
Friday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 14-7, 3.33) at Yankees (CC Sabathia, 18-7, 3.31), 7:05 p.m. ET
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.