The Red Sox came up well short in the first half of their day - night doubleheader with the Angels, falling 9-5 in a game characterized by bad luck in the beginning, bad relief pitching at the end.
The first few innings of the game were virtually indistinguishable from what we might have seen in a typical game during the May slump. You want wasted baserunners? The Sox stranded two in each of the first three innings. David Ortiz struggling? The big man himself left six men on in the first four innings, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Tommy Hanson. Strange events conspiring to prevent good things from happening to the Sox? Try a Daniel Nava ground ball catching the back of Tommy Hanson's foot and kicking out to third. Instead of having Jacoby Ellsbury home on a ground ball single, the Sox had him tagged out at third.
Felix Doubront wasn't exactly having the best luck either, though at least the Red Sox had some agency in the runs he allowed. One in the second came on some pretty standard issue ground balls. Well-placed by the Angels, and well-timed with one being out of the leadoff spot, allowing Howie Kendrick to get into position to score on Erick Aybar's two-out base knock. It's something that will happen a thousand times to any pitcher, but when it does, it's aggravating.
The third inning saw much better contact, with Mike Trout finding the wall in left for a leadoff double. The frustrating thing for Doubront will be the fact that a 2-2 pitch to Josh Hamilton found the corner, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia's awkward stab made it look like a frame job, and the call did not go his way. A double steal let the Angels tack on two more on productive outs, and the Sox were in a 3-0 hole.
The Sox made a game of it in the fourth, taking two back, including one on a leadoff homer from Mike Carp. But David Ortiz was once again the surprise problem man in the lineup against Hanson, hitting the first pitch into the shift to end the inning.
Whatever forces of the universe hurt them in the first six, the last three--at least up until the bottom of the ninth--were a complete mess. Franklin Morales was the first man out of the pen, making his first relief appearance of the year. It did not go nearly so well as his start. While he picked up two outs quickly enough, getting J.B. Shuck and Josh Hamilton around a Mike Trout double, the Sox elected to intentionally walk a struggling Albert Pujols to face Mark Trumbo. Perhaps the last vestiges of the bad luck came through then, with Trumbo cueing a ground ball just barely fair past first base to score a fourth run for the Angels.
From there, though, it was just plain awful. 12 of the next 14 pitches Morales threw went for balls, first loading he bases, and then walking in two runs. Clayton Mortensen came into the game to give up a seventh run before finally getting out of the frame. The Angels would score two more in the ninth, adding insult to injury when Andrew Miller walked in another run.
Shockingly, the Red Sox would manage to earn some small victory with their last out. A furious rally in the ninth saw them score three times, actually forcing Mike Scioscia to turn to his closer, Ernesto Frieri, and perhaps making him unavailable for the second half of the doubleheader. Frieri, however, got the job done, leaving the Red Sox with a loss in game one.
Read more Red Sox:
- MLB Draft 2013 results: Red Sox select pitcher Trey Ball #7 overall
- MLB Draft 2013: The best #7 picks in history
- Xander Bogaerts might be baseball’s best prospect
- Mike Napoli: 3 weeks and True Outcomes
- Cliff Lee's no-trade clause includes Red Sox