In the eyes of a typical Red Sox fan at the game tonight; it can't get much more miserable than this. For one, the Red Sox lost the game 5-3 to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. But that's just your typical loss. No, what made this one something special was the 7 hours and 35 minutes--two-and-a-half of which elapsed without a pitch being thrown as the teams waited out a long rain delay--that passed between the first pitch and when it finally ended with all of the West Coast baseball games already in the books.
The Angels sent young Ervin Santana to the hill, giving him the task of finally taking down the Red Sox. If it hadn't been for the rain delay, he may have done just that. Through his four innings of work, Santana was pitching a no-hitter against Boston while only allowing one walk to Adrian Gonzalez. Santana struggled in his last outing against Boston when he allowed five earned runs on nine hits, but it's safe to say he bounced back quite well this time.
Josh Beckett was given the start for Boston on an extra two days of rest due to the reshuffling of the pitching rotation. Like Santana, Beckett had a very solid performance through a limited time. He went four and a third innings and surrendered just one hit and three walks. Beckett recorded one out in the fourth inning before play was suspended. The score remained tied at zero heading into the delay.
Play resumed at about 11 p.m. with Matt Albers on the mound for the Red Sox with Beckett done. Albers had a very solid outing going two full innings, surrendering just two hits and walking just one.
Rich Thompson was given the ball by Mike Scioscia to try and preserve the Angels no-hitter. He did just that, recording five outs, striking out two, and keeping the Red Sox out of both the hit and run columns. The no-hitter was intact through six innings.
After Albers was lifted in the seventh inning, Wheeler was brought on and immediately gave up a leadoff double to Howie Kendrick, followed by an absolute bomb to Vernon Wells to give Los Angeles the 2-0 lead. Hideki Okajima did a nice job cleaning up the mess Wheeler caused, but the score was nonetheless 2-0, Angels.
The Sox came into the seventh inning without a hit to their name as they faced left hander Scott Downs to start the frame. After a Kevin Youkilis walk and a David Ortiz strikeout, Jed Lowrie stepped in and ended the no-hit bid with an opposite field single to right. However, they could not get anything else started at that point.
Finally, in the eighth, the offense started to show up.
Downs was still on the eigth inning, facing Jason Varitek who hit a double down the right field line. After a couple of outs made by Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez single-home Varitek on a weak grounder to put the Red Sox on the board.
Oki was still on for the top of the ninth inning, where he surrendered a couple of singles to Wells and Hank Conger and walked Peter Bourjos to load the bases. Erick Aybar then drove Wells in on a Sacrifice fly off new pitcher Tim Wakefield to center field, leaving the score at 3-1, Angels' lead.
This game looked all-but-lost, as most of the fans still present departed after the Wells home run. That certainly wasn't going to be the case--at least not yet. The Angels brought on their rookie closer Jordan Walden to face the bottom half of the order. Jed Lowrie quickly walked and was immediately followed by a Mike Cameron single to left field. Lowrie then scored on an odd wild pitch and throwing error by the Angels battery of Walden and Conger. Carl Crawford doubled to left field, but Cameron was thrown out by Vernon Wells at third base. With Crawford on second, and two men out, Jacoby Ellsbury smoked a 3-2 changeup into center field for a game tying single, scoring Crawford. With the game tied, the Sox and Angels headed into extra innings.
Jonathan Papelbon was able to shut down the Angels offense in the top of the tenth inning, walking one and fanning two. Daniel Bard also did a very nice job out of the pen' holding the Angels scoreless for two frmes. Trevor Bell countered with two scoreless relief efforts to keep this thing close through eleven-and-a-half innings, still 3-3.
It was in the bottom of the twelth that things went right, and then terribly wrong. With Marco Scutaro reaching first with one out, up came Kevin Youkilis. On the fourth pitch he saw, Youkilis swung, and swung hard, lifting a ball high and far to left. With both teams of announcers starting into their walk-off calls, the ball bounced off the monster just inches short of a home run. Third base coach Tim Bogar waved Scutaro home then, at the last second, held up his hands to stop him. It was to no avail--Scutaro ran right past, and was cut down at the plate on a strong relay from Erick Aybar. After an infield single kept the inning going, Jed Lowrie grounded out to end the threat.
Finally, the Angels broke through in the thirteenth inning. With Diasuke Matsuzaka on in relief, the Angels loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of singles and a walk. It was Bobby Abreu who finally did the honors, shooting a ground ball single past a diving Dustin Pedroia and into right field to score the two runs that, with no answer from the Sox in the bottom of the frame, proved the game winners.
Where do the Sox go from here? They've once again been denied .500 just one game away, and their bullpen is in tatters with Daisuke Matsuzaka presumably not ready to go on Friday. One's thing for sure: they're going to need a lot out of John Lackey less than 12 hours from now.