We got ourselves quite the game last night, no question. Extra innings are fairly routine, but seeing ten extra innings– quite literally more than two baseball games– is a rarity in the truest sense. Wow.
The pitching matchup seemed lopsided in the Angels’ favor entering the game as Clay Buchholz (5-7, 6.20 ERA) squared off against Los Angeles’s breakout star Garrett Richards (12-4, 2.58 ERA) and the way the game started, those suspicions appeared correct.
Immediately after Richards shut down the Red Sox with a 1-2-3 first inning, striking out two of those batters, the Angels offense got off to a quick start against Buchholz. Kole Calhoun led off the inning with a double to left-center before a Mike Trout infield single and a wild pitch would place two runners in scoring position with no outs. A two-run double off the bat of Albert Pujols double later and Buchholz appeared to be in for a long night.
And Buchholz was in for a long night; luckily, it was the good type of long night. The enigmatic right-hander did not allow another run until the bottom of the eighth inning and, overall, turned in an excellent outing for the Red Sox. Going eight full innings, Buchholz allowed three runs on six hits and two walks, fanning eight Angels hitters. For much of the evening, however, even Buchholz’s strong effort did not appear that it would be enough to top Los Angeles.
Through six full innings, Richards had been absolutely dominant and was yet to allow a hit. That didn’t matter to the Red Sox in the seventh inning, however, as the team rattled off three consecutive hits to begin the inning. Dustin Pedroia started the inning with a first-pitch single up the middle, proceeding to score on David Ortiz‘s double to left-center. A Yoenis Cespedes single then placed runners at first and third with no outs, the Red Sox having cut the lead to 2-1. And while the Red Sox had earned those first three hits of the inning, the Angels soon began to get into their own way.
Mike Napoli hit a soft dribbler to Angels’ shortstop Erick Aybar but as Aybar charged towards the grounder, he bobbled the ball enough to allow Ortiz to score from the third base, effectively tying the game. The next batter, Daniel Nava, then grounded into what appeared to be a tailor-made double play but a misplay by second baseman Howie Kendrick resulted in safeties all around on the Boston base paths. With the bases loaded and still no outs, Xander Bogaerts then knocked a high fly ball to center field, scoring Cespedes and giving the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
However, that lead would be short-lived. After shutting down the Angels in the seventh inning, Clay Buchholz questionably began the eighth inning with 114 pitches under his belt and John Farrell would soon pay for his mistake. With one out in the inning, Mike Trout drove an inside fastball to right-center field for a game-tying home run. While Buchholz did finish the eighth inning, the game thereafter became a battle of the bullpens.
And not your average battle of the bullpens either; this one lasted quite a while. Still 3-3 in the 14th inning, the Angels bullpen did blink first. Dustin Pedroia reached base on a single and proceeded to steal both second and third base with one out in the inning, scoring on a sacrifice fly by David Ortiz. Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived. The Angels loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 14th and Mike Trout grounded into an RBI force out to tie the game at 4-4. Improbably, however, the Red Sox were able to negotiate their way out of the inning as no more runs scored and the game continued.
And continue, it most certainly did. An incredible Red Sox debut from Heath Hembree, he went four shutout innings and allowed two hits and two walks with two strikeouts, held the Angels offense in check while a three-inning scoreless performance from Matt Shoemaker held the Red Sox in check. But Hembree was off the mound to begin the 19th inning, Brandon Workman pitching, and Albert Pujols took advantage of the change. Pujols lifted a high line drive to right-center which just got out of the ballpark to give the Angels the 5-4 win and send the few fans that remained at the game, home happy.