|Connelly’s Top Ten: Holt Magic, Brady is Awesome, Exorcist Wicked Scary||Sox Take Two From SF Giants||Retirement Looms Large For Big Papi||Hey David ! FIGURE IT OUT.|
The Red Sox beat the Angels 9-8 in dramatic fashion Thursday night, when Nick Green drew a controversial bases loaded walk to tie the game, and Alex Gonzalez laced a hit down the left field line to win it for the Sox in the ninth.
Angels closer Brian Fuentes suggested umpires were too “timid” or “scared” to make tough calls in Fenway Park that may go against the Sox. Fuentes is referring to the Nick green at bat, where Green may have struck out looking on two separate pitches, but the umpire called both pitches balls, and the rest they say is history.
“Especially here and some other places, they seem timid to make calls,” said Fuentes. “I’ve heard it from other guys that come in here and say that. That’s either because it’s a mistake, or they’re scared.”
Want a little cheese with that wine, Brian Fuentes?
For Dan’s full live blog of Wednesday night’s thriller, read below.
Wednesday night’s match up:
Unfortunately, we all know what usually happens when the Colonel gets ahold of a bird.
Saunders is 13-7, 4.81 on the season, while Byrd is 1-1, 6.08.
Youks and Victor Martinez are out again tonight. Martinez should be back tomorrow, but no one knows if Youks and his cranky back will be available then. JD Drew also starts the game on the bench against the lefty Saunders.
Considering his old-timey windup, his beard and his “physique,” Byrd really seems like a guy who should’ve played 100 years ago. (FYI: he didn’t.) But instead of Paul Byrd, he should have an old-timey name, like Phineas J. McGillicuddy, or maybe Mordecai “Five Finger” Byrd. Maybe Orville, or Cyrus, or Buck, or Rube?
Tonight though, he’s sporting a 1980’s style red turtleneck for some reason. Odd fashion choice there, Cyrus. Why not spats, or sleeve garters instead?
Shawn (pronounced Chone) Figgins starts the game with a base hit on a sizzling 83-mph fastball. Erick Aybar, of the Bani, DR Aybars, follows by popping out to Alex Gonzalez.
Abreu cracks one to deep center, but the wind knocks it down a bit, and Ellsbury is waiting for it on the warning track when it comes down.
Vlad the Impaler is up with a man on and two out. He too drills a shot deep to the outfield, this one to left, but the wind blows this one down too, and Bay is able to make the grab with his back literally to the wall, to end the inning. Nil-nil after half an inning.
Ellsbury will lead off, as is his wont. And Deion Saunders walks him, to start things off nicely. Things don’t stay nice for long though, as Pedroia quickly bounces into a 4-6-3 double play.
Two outs and no one on for Jason Bay now, and Saunders gets him to bounce out to Figgins to end the inning. No score after 1.
Torii Hunter steps in for the Angles, and promptly crushes another deep blast to center field, but again the wind knocks it down, and Ellsbury snags it on the track. Blasting deep flyouts to the track must look like fun to Kendry Morales, because he joins the party, belting one that Bay catches easily on the warning track. The wind is definitely the MVP of this game so far for the Sox.
A grown man named Howie is the next batter. Howard Joseph Kendrick III is sick of all these warning track blasts, so he grounds out to Gonzalez instead. Still no score in the second.
Mike Lowell starts the home half of the inning by grounding a base hit between third and shortstop. Ortiz is next, and he falls behind 1-2, then takes a ball, fouls one off, then whiffs on a Col. Saunders fastball, missing it by about a foot and a half.
Rico Baldy is up with a man on and one out, and he gets ahead 3-0. But Saunders fights back and ends up fanning him for the second out. Varitek is next, matching our Captain against their Colonel. But Varitek’s hitting under .165 since the all-star break, and .000 since this game started. He looks badly outranked, quickly popping out to end the inning. No score after 2.
Phineas J. McGillicuddy once again takes the mound to start the third, facing Juan Rivera. Byrd does his rocking-back, arm-swinging windup, but Rivera smacks a ground single up the middle for a leadoff hit.
Mike Napoli is catching tonight, and is due up next. (Mathis isn’t starting tonight, but chances are, he’ll get in there at some point.) Napoli hits a high chopper to Lowell, who fields it, thinks about throwing it to second, but then instead fires to first to retire Mikey Naples for the first out.
That brings up the top of the order, personified by Sean (pronounced Chone) Figgins. He cracks a liner to left, but it’s right at Jason Bay, who catches it for the second out, Rivera holding at second.
Erick Aybar hits a looper that Kotchman leaps for, but it skims off the top of his glove, into shallow right field for a hit. Rivera barrels around third to score, and on the throw, Aybar hustles in to second.
Bobby Abroo follows by drawing a walk, and that brings up the ever-dangerous Vlad Guerrero, who looks and runs like he’s about 67 years old, but who can still mash the ball. Mordecai Byrd falls behind 3-1, then gets Vlad to miss an 88-mph fastball, and then flail at a low breaking ball, whiffing him to retire the side. (Not permanently retired– they will all be able to resume their careers.) 1-0 in favor of the obtuse Angles in the third.
Casey Kotchman leads off the third against his old team by lofting a fly ball down the left field line, that drops in just fair for a double. Alex Gonzalez is next, still looking for his first walk as a Red Sox, after 94 at-bats. (Well I guess he’s not looking for a walk that badly, or he probably would’ve found one by now.) This time, he drops down a sacrifice bunt, and moves Kotchman to third, as the Angels get the out at first.
Ellsbury follows by hitting a little bouncer right at Morales, who was playing in at first base. Morales looks Kotchman back to third, and steps on first for the out.
Pedroia has one last chance to knock in the run, but he can only ground out to Aybar to end the threat. Still 1-0 bad guys after 3.
Torii Hunter starts the 4th by belting yet another smash deep to the outfield, but this one carries well enough to bounce off the wall. Hunter cruises into second with the leadoff double.
The Angles are in the part of their order where it sounds like a coed T-ball team: Torii, then Kendry, and then Howie. Kendry Morales steps in and quickly pops out to Pedroia in shallow right field for the first out. Kendrick is next, and he smacks a one-hopper back to ol’ Orville Byrd. Byrd catches Hunter off second, and charges over toward him. Hunter’s able to get into a rundown though, staying alive long enough for Kendrick to make it to second.
Byrd should’ve thrown it instead of running over, and they might’ve got a double play, or at worst kept Kendrick at first while getting the out.
But none of that matters now, as Rivera fouls out to Pedroia to end the inning. 1-0 Anaheimers in the 4th.
Jason Bay starts the inning by clanging a quick-sinking liner to left for a base hit. Mike Lowell steps in next. The Sox try the hit and run! Lowell whiffs on the pitch, but Bay beats the throw, stealing second safely. Mike Scioscia comes out of the dugout to complain that Lowell interfered with catcher Napoli’s throw, and there’s a fly in his soup, and his taxes are too high, and it’s unseasonably warm in his heavy coat, and kids these days are lazy, and there’s nothing good on TV, but he gets sent back in by the ump, who is having none of it.
Ortiz follows with a walk, putting two on with one out for Baldelli. Rocco smashes a liner, but it’s right at Kendrick. He snags it, and fires to second to double-off Bay, whose baserunning adventures backfire this time. Still 2-0 in favor of the Californicators after 4.
Mike Napoli leads off the 5th. Byrd fans him on a rising fastball in on the hands, that Napoli can’t catch up with, even though it doesn’t come close to 90 mph. Location, location, etc. etc.
Figgins follows by also whiffing on a patented Byrd slowball for the second out. But Aybar continues to pound the Red Sox, cracking a base hit down the right field line. Baldelli grabs it and heaves it back to the infield, but his throw sails way over everyone who might possibly be reasonably expected to be involved in the play. It’s finally flagged down by Lowell, and Aybar takes second.
Abreu follows by cracking another smash to deep center. Uh, wind, a little help here maybe? No, not this time, as the ball sails into the triangle, landing about 415 feet from the plate, for an RBI double as Aybar scores.
Guerrero is next, with a chance to break the game open. But Byrd shows no fear, and goes right after him, getting him to pop to Pedroia to end the inning. 3-0 Angles in the 5th.
Varitek leads off the home half, his batting average now down to .214 on the season. He works the count full, then whiffs on a high fastball that would’ve been ball four, if he hadn’t swung. But he did swing.
Kotchman is the next hitter, and he’s hitting .212 with the Red Sox now. He falls behind, and is quickly called out on strikes for the second out. So far tonight, Joe Saunders is dominating the Red Sox. (Hey, I could’ve made some lame joke about how Col. Saunders is sizzling hot tonight, or how the Sox are eating out of his hand, or something, but I didn’t. You’re welcome!)
Alex Gonzalez at least makes contact, but his soft liner to left is grabbed by a clumsily leaping Rivera, who seems to play the outfield like a hippo on roller skates, for the third out. 3-0 Anaheimers.
Torii Hunter leads off the inning by crushing one to deep left– but this time the wind lets us down, as the ball soars high over the Green Monster for a leadoff homer.
I like Byrd’s pitching so much more when the wind is blowing in at hurricane force.
Byrd hangs in there, and whiffs Kendry Morales. He falls behind Howie Kendrick 3-0 though. Kendrick takes a Gentleman’s Called Strike, then pops one foul to fill the count. He bloops the next pitch down the right field line, and it drops in fair ground, then bounces into the stands for an automatic double. Byrd’s night is nearing an end soon, but he stays out there to face Juan Rivera.
Byrd goes into his half-squat, knees-bent stretch position, but Rivera steps out on him. He finally gets back in there, and smacks a base hit to left. Kendrick holds third, but this surely has to be the end of the night for Ol’ Rube Byrd.
And it is, as Francona comes out to yank him. Bye-Bye, Byrdie. Pitching change.
Takashi Saito is in to face Napoli. Saito immediately falls behind 3-0, but Mikey Naples hacks at the next pitch, fouling it off, then misses a sinking slider. It ends up not mattering though, as Saito’s next pitch is in the dirt for ball four.
Bases loaded, one out for Shawon (pronounced Chone) Figgins. The Red Sox infield moves in to double-play-followed-by-a-6-run-inning depth. Figgins pops one to shallow left, and Bay moves way in to grab it, so the runners have to hold.
The hot-hitting Erick Johan Aybar is up, with the chance to basically ice the game here. Saito gets ahead 1-2, then gets I-bar to pop out to Kotchman to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded. Nicely done by Saito to keep the Sox in it, though the way Saunders is going, this 3-0 lead seems like 10 runs.
Ellsbury faces Saunders to start the inning, and he one grounds sharply up the middle, that looks like a sure single– but Kendrick dives and grabs it! He hops up and fires to first, but it’s too late to get the alacritous Ellsbury. Guess it was a sure single after all.
The reigning AL MVP lines a shot right through Figgins at third, into the left field corner for a double! Ellsbury races to third and holds there. Figgins should have had that, really. He looked like a hockey goalie letting in a weak shot from center ice.
Bay is up next, representing the tying run. He knocks a soft single to center, just past the diving infielders, and two runs score!
Lowell steps to the plate in this now-one-run game. He grounds a routine 4-6-3 grounder to Kendrick, but his flip is dropped by Aybar for an error! Everyone is safe! With Lowell running, Aybar had about 13 seconds to catch that ball and then toss it to first, but he just booted it comically.
Two on, no one out now for Ortiz. He spits into his palm and double-slaps his hands, then gets in the box. He anticlimactically taps a routine 4-6-3 double-play grounder to Kendrick, who fields it, then double-clutches, then finally tosses to second to get one out, but that’s all. The Angels have been bumbling around like drunks this inning, handing out free opportunities to the Red Sox like those annoying people with the flyers in Harvard Square.
Baldelli now up, with runners on first and third and 5 outs (adjusted for the Anaheim defense this inning.) Scioscia is sticking with Saunders, even with the tying run on third– and he probably should, as Saunders should have been out of the inning long ago.
Baldlelli hits a bounding ball to the left side. Shaun Figgins (pronounced “poor fielder”) dives for it, but he can’t get it! It’s a base hit, scoring Bay with the tying run!
First and second, one out now for Varitek. After he inevitably whiffs, it’ll be Kotchman.
Varitek takes three straight balls from Saunders, then a Gentleman’s Called Strike. The next pitch misses, for the walk, loading the bases. Saunders and everyone in the Angels dugout are wearing seasick expressions at this point.
Big at-bat for Kotchman: bases loaded, one out, tie game, Saunders possibly tiring after having gotten six outs so far this inning. Kotchman pops a little blooper to shallow left, but Aybar is able to dash back and grab it for the second out. Big squander for Kotchman.
Alex Gonzalez follows. Saunders is now at 35 pitches this inning, which is over one-third of his total for the game.
Gonzalez pretty much has to be his last hitter of the night, no matter what happens. One thing that we know won’t happen is a walk to Gonzalez.
What does happen is Gonzalez swings at a pitch way outside, and hits a little flare to shallow right that falls in for a cheap hit! Ortiz figuratively waltzes home, and Baldelli speeds around from second to score another run.
5-3 Red Sox now, and that’s it for Colonel Saunders. He walks off the mound in disgust, like someone who just found a mouse in their bucket of extra crispy. Pitching Change.
Jason Bulger (not bugler) is in to pitch for the Anaheimers. Ellsbury up for the second time this inning, but he whiffs, swinging sillyly at a curve in the dirt to end the inning. But suddenly it’s 5-3 Boston after 6.
For some reason, Brian Anderson is in to play right field for Boston. Saito stays in to face Abreu. Booby Abroo takes a few pitches, then fouls off a bunch more. Saito is working slowly, then doing his Satchel Paige-style hesitation-pitch windup. If you like weird, old-timey pitching styles (and I do) then this has been a good game to watch.
Saito finally gets Abreu to roll one to the right of the plate. Saito picks it up and tosses to Kotchman for the out.
Guerrero steps in, and Saito drills him in the chest! (with a fastball, not with a drill.) Vlad’s hurt by that one. When a 92-mph fastball slams into your chest, it does tend to smart a bit. While Guerrero bends over and groans, Francona comes out to change pitchers — Ramon Ramirez coming in. Pitching change.
Torii Hunter is up, representing the tying run, as well as some sort of a Japanese gate. Hunter gets ahead 3-1, but pops out on a very hittable fastball, Pedroia trotting out to right field to make the grab.
Kendry Morales is the next batter. He has already hit 30 home runs this year, which is surely the all-time record for most homers hit by someone named Kendry, and quite possibly also the record for anyone named Morales, because 30 is a lot of homers.
Ramirez whiffs him, to end the– No, wait, the ball gets away from Varitek! He looks around desperately but clumsily and excruciatingly slowly, like an old man without his glasses who’s just dropped his dentures. By the time he can find it, the ball has rolled all the way to the backstop. Disastrous.
Howie Kendrick follows with a base hit to left, scoring Guerrero. Both teams have allowed some really pathetic runs to score tonight.
Juan Rivera steps in with two on and two out. He crushes a shot to deep center. Ellsbury races back to the wall, jumps up, and misses it, the ball sailing over his glove and off the wall! Two runs score, and suddenly the Angels lead. That’s three runs that have scored after the inning was over. Unspeakable.
Napoli continues the horrific inning, belting a double to left that scores Rivera with yet another run. Varitek’s play as awful, but Ramirez can’t just implode like this after it; they’re both to blame for this. Francona’s finally seen enough, and comes out to yank Ramirez. Pitching change.
Okajima is in the game now, but the lead is already gone and we’re now down two runs. Bringing him in one or two batters earlier might’ve been better. At any rate, he whiffs Figgins– and we all wait– yes, Varitek catches this one! The inning actually IS over this time. But, as they say on TV, the damage has been done. 7-5 Angels.
Someone named Kevin Jepsen is now pitching for Anaheim of Los Angeles. Meet Kev Jepsen!
Jepsen gets Pedroia to bounce out to Aybar. Bay is next, and he shatters his bat, also grounding out to Aybar. The Fenway crowd has gone silent, in disbelief, or maybe because they’re all softly muttering swear words about Varitek. Wait, that can’t be it, this is Fenway, where people don’t mutter obscenities, they scream them at the top of their lungs.
Lowell is next, and he grounds one up the middle. Kendrick zips over and gloves it. This time, with Lowell “running,” Kendrick is able to set himself, check his email, make a few calls, see what’s on TV, and then throw out Lowell to end this disheartening inning. 7-5 Anaheimers of Losangeles after 7.
Aybar leads off against Okajima with a base hit to center. Okajima is now sporting a faint peachfuzz goatee for some reason. It looks like something from a bad high school yearbook photo.
Abreu follows with a base hit past Okerjeemer, and I-bar scoots all the way to third. Suddenly this game sucks badly. Guerrero is due up again, even though it seems like he just batted a second ago. Francona comes out to change pitchers again.
Runners on the corners, no one out for Vlad, against Manny Delcarmen. Wait, no, Maicer Izturis is in to pinch hit for Vladimir Guerrrero. Seriously. Vlad’s obviously still hurting from the HBP.
Izturis pops one to shallow left. Gonzalez goes out to make the grab, the runners holding.
Torii Hunter is next. On the second pitch, Abreu takes off and steals second, without a throw. America Runs on Varitek.
The Sox decide to intentionally walk Hunter to load the bases, hoping to get Morales to hit into a double play. Yeah, this will end well.
MDC gets ahead 1-2, then busts a curve in the dirt that Morales whiffs on. Varitek doesn’t catch this one either, but it doesn’t roll far, and with one out and the bases loaded, no one can advance. This time.
Delcarmen gets ahead of Kendrick 0-2. The crowd is getting loud now, probably because the pink-hatters can’t wait to sing that overplayed song after this half inning. MDC gives them more to cheer about by fanning Kendrick to end the inning. Nice job by Delcarmen here. But it’s still 5-7 in the 8th.
Elroy Jepsen is still out there for the 8th, facing Ortiz. Ortiz starts things by lofting a soft liner to center for a single. JD Drew comes out to pinch hit for Anderson, representing the tying run, as well as the hopes and dreams of a Red Sox comeback.
George Jepsen walks him on four pitches, then climbs into his flying car and zooms back to the future– no wait, Scioscia comes out, but he leaves Jepsen in the game, as Josh Reddick is up to pinch hit for Goat Varitek. Reddick hits a chopper to Kendrick, who gets the force-out at second base.
Runners on the corners, one out. Now Scioscia is out again, and this time he does send Jepsen back to the future. Pitching change.
Former Red Sox crumbum Darren Oliver (5-1, 2.70 this year, really) is in to face Casey Kotchman. With Victor Martinez away in Cleveland on personal business and Youkilis in the hospital with a bad back, we don’t really have a pinch hitter better than Kotchman against a lefty. Yikes.
The count runs to 2-2, then ball three gets away from Napoli! Ortiz has to hold, but Reddick takes second. Ha, revenge for Varitek’s passed ball! (No, not even close.)
The tying runs are in scoring position with one out for Kotchman, who has a chance to redeem himself for his squander in the 6th.
This time he hits a grounder right at Aybar. Thankfully, Reddick is now on second, so it’s not an inning-ending DP, but instead is an RBI groundout as Ortiz scores. Reddick takes third on the play.
Now Alex Gonzalez is up with two out and the tying run on third. No pinch hitter for him, either.
He works the count full. The tension builds. So much at stake on this pitch: Will Gonzalez finally draw a walk?
YES! YES! GONZALEZ HAS DRAWN A WALK! At long last, our national plate-patience nightmare is over.
Runners on the corners and two down for Ellsbury now. After Ellsbury takes strike one, Scioscia comes out of the dugout to talk to his infielders. Will they try to pull the hidden ball trick? I hope so, teams need to try that more often.
But this time they do not. Oliver pitches, and Ellsbury bounces a chopper to the right side. The ball almost hits Gonzalez, who hops in the air as the ball bounces through Scioscia’s carefully arranged infield, into right field for a hit! Reddick scores and the games is tied!
Pedroia follows with a routine flyout to Hunter to end the threat, but after 8 innings, the game is tied at 7.
Supposedly Papelbon is unavailable tonight due to back soreness. Hmm, sounds like an extra-inning loss is coming up.
Drew stays in the game in right, Dusty Brown is now catching, and the Immortal Daniel Bard is in to face Juan Rivera. Rivera hits a little nubber in front of the plate. Dusty Brown picks it up out of the brown dust, bobbles it, drops it, picks it back up and fires to first in time to get Rivera.
Napoli grounds to Lowell routinely for the second out, bringing up Shon (pronounced Chone) Figgins. Figgy drills a base hit up the middle.
Aybar is next. Figgins takes off for second on an attempted steal, and has a great jump, but Aybar fouls off the pitch, and Figgins has to go back to first.
And it’s a good thing he does, because Aybar grounds a single to right, his 12th hit of the night, and Figgins speeds to third.
Pitching Coach John Farrell comes out to the mound for a conference, then goes back to the dugout as Bobby Abroo steps in. With a base open and Maicer Izturis on deck, they probably won’t give Abreu anything to hit.
Bard tries the old “Fake to third, then throw to first” move not once but twice, and of course fails to fool anyone with it, since Mike Greenwell isn’t running. At least Bard doesn’t balk.
But he might as well have, because Abreu rolls a grounder between third and short for a base hit, scoring Figgins with the go-ahead run. That’s three straight ground-ball singles with two outs. What the hell?!
Izturis smacks a sizzling one-hopper to first that Kotchman snags. He dashes to first ahead of Izturis to end the inning, but the Angels have taken an 8-7 lead in the 9th.
Brian Fuentes, leading the AL in saves, is in to pitch the 9th. On the second pitch, he gets Bay to pop out for the first out.
Lowell is next, and he skies the third pitch routinely to Hunter for the second out.
Five pitches, two outs. This inning has been severely disappointing so far, dramatic comeback-wise.
Ortiz is next, the last hope for the Red Sox tonight. The Angels shift about 46 players to the right side of the field. Sure would be a good time to drop a bunt single down the third base line and trot to first as the tying run.
Well he doesn’t have to bunt, because Fuentes walks him on 4 pitches, bringing up JD Drew. Joey Gathright is in to pinch run for Ortiz.
Drew gets ahead 2-0. Six consecutive balls by Fuentes. Drew definitely shouldn’t swing at the next pitch.
But he does! Drew bounces a little slow chopper up the middle, that Aybar runs over to and grabs, but by that time, everyone is safe!
Two on, two out in the 9th. Jed Lowrie is up to pinch hit for Dusty Brown. Lowrie hasn’t had an at-bat in the majors since early August, and is hitting .143 on the season.
Lowrie smacks a hot grounder down the third base line! Figgins dives and knocks it down! Everyone is safe! But Figgins knocking it down definitely saves the tying run from scoring, and also possibly the winning run.
Bases loaded, two outs, down one in the 9th. And now Nick Green is in to pinch hit for Kotchman. Nick Green? Pinch hitting? Seriously? Fuentes heaves a big sigh of relief, and tries not to snicker, and fires two strikes past Green.
One more strike will end it. The next pitch is high, and Green tries to check his swing– it’s ruled a ball. Just barely. Scioscia doesn’t agree. When does he ever?
Green fouls off three pitches, and the count is still 1-2. Fuentes misses with a high fastball, then misses again. The tension builds– Will Green whiff? Or will he pop out? Which will it be??
Green takes the next pitch– it’s over the middle of the plate, thigh-high, and is called BALL FOUR. The tying run scores on the bases-loaded walk, and the Angels are rightfully furious. The pitch zone shows it’s clearly a strike. Wow. Greenzo must have had Baseball Annie wink at the ump or something.
Alex Gonzalez is next. He fouls off a couple of pitches, then lunges for one and hits a bloop fly to shallow left. Rivera comes lumbering in, but he’s not going to get it! It falls in for a hit! The winning run scores! The Red Sox win!
Wow, baseball is hilarious sometimes. Scoscia’s head has probably exploded, or maybe he’s collapsed from radiation poisoning or something.
You wouldn’t want to be the Angels’ water cooler right now. (Then again why would you ever want to be the Angels’ water cooler?) What a poorly played game, with ridiculous mistakes and silly plays and bad calls. But damn, it was fun.
Now that the Rangers are getting stomped by the A’s again, it looks like the Sox will be 6.5 games ahead in the wild card race. A crazy night, but it all works out nicely in the end. Thanks folks, and good night!