Boston Red Sox fans must have been trying to tell themselves that the second game of yesterday’s double-header would go better than the absolute shellacking that they took from the Los Angeles Angels in the first game. They may be trying to tell themselves that the next series will go better, instead, because Game 2 was not much better.
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The Red Sox called up Steven Wright from Triple-A to see if he could help stem the tide of woe for the Red Sox pitching staff. With Clay Buchholz out with injury, it was Wright’s job to maintain a decent outing so that the offense could pick up the victory for them.
On what planet did the Red Sox sit down and draw up that strategy? The offense, which was playing a bit better before the All-Star Break, were blanked twice and then scored only a single run to their counterpart’s 11 runs in the first game of the double-header. The right-handed knuckler had three starts for the Pawtucket Red Sox since July 1st, where he allowed a combined 12 runs on 16 hits. No offense to Wright, but this guy was primed for a beating by the Angels’ big bats.
However, it’s not like the Red Sox have many options at the position, so we digress and move ahead to the night game, which started just after 10 PM ET.
In front of just over 38 000 fans in Anaheim, left pitcher Andrew Heaney took the mound for the Angels. In his first four starts of 2015, he went 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Heaney allowed only a run to both the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees, two runs against the Colorado Rockies, and blanked the Seattle Mariners. Unlike Wright, this man was primed to make the Red Sox bats cry again.
Based on this tale of the tape, anyone could have predicted that the Angels would have drawn first blood. And they did.
In the bottom of the second inning, Albert Pujols, MLB’s home run leader, crushed his 28th long ball of the season over the left-field fence. Wright’s 64-mph curveball must not have fooled the big slugger too much.
In the bottom of the third inning, when Pujols came up to bat this time, Wright walked him on five pitches. The problem for the Red Sox was that the bases happened to be loaded at the time. The walk scored Johnny Giavotella. The next batter was Erick Aybar who smacked a single to center field, which scored Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout. The next batter was Matt Joyce who got smacked by a 70-mph curveball on the first pitch. That brought Daniel Robertson to the plate, which brought another single passed Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and scored Pujols.
With the aforementioned lack of options, Wright was left in the game. That decision allowed him to face the Angels’ face of the franchise, as well as MLB’s golden man-child, Trout to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning. On another slow-moving curveball (60 mph), Trout drilled the offering over the fence in center field for a lead-off shot.
Mercifully, Wright was relieved from starting the sixth inning by lefty Tommy Layne.
Just before Wright’s exodus, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz got in on the ball-bashing party and hit a home run of his own into the stands in right-center field. The blast scored Bogaerts to get the Red Sox back into the game, even if marginally, 6-2.
Jul 20, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) celebrates with Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Mike Trout (27) after hitting a solo home run at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Not to be outdone, in the bottom of the seventh inning, the man who started the party took back the bat and let go another crushed offering from Red Sox reliever Alexi Ogando. Pujols jogged the bases steadily with the knowledge that his 29th home run of the season would likely seal the victory for the Angels.
That was all for Heaney, as the Angels relieved him, and the Red Sox lineup, with Trevor Gott to start the eighth inning. Gott proceeded to walk the first batter he faced in Swihart on five pitches. A quick coach’s visit to the mound didn’t help, as he then walked Mookie Betts and gave Boston’s fans a bit of hope.
Two batters later, Bogaerts hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Swihart. However, that was all the Red Sox would muster. After Ortiz hit a single, the Angels quickly made a change to Joe Smith to handle Hanley Ramirez. The Red Sox left fielder grounded to Pujols who forced Ortiz out at second with a throw to Aybar. The threat was extinguished.
Smith took care of the Red Sox again in the top of the ninth to end the game and pick up his first save of the year. Heaney and the Angels took the victory, 7-3.
- Blake Swihart had two passed balls, one of them contributing to the bases being loaded in the third inning. Swihart was just called up from Triple-A after Sandy Leon was sent down.
- With insult to injury, the Red Sox replaced Mike Napoli with pinch hitter Brock Holt in the top of the ninth inning. Napoli has only been able to hit his former team, before coming into this series. In this series, the writing was firmly stuck to the wall that Napoli’s time may be over for the Red Sox, going 3-for-10 with one RBI, no walks, and four strikeouts. He’s currently hitting .197, and he’s projected to hit, at best, .212 by the end of the regular season. That’s just not going to get it done.
- The Red Sox went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. The Angels went 2-for-7.
- Ironically, Napoli got two of his three hits in last night’s game, which made him one of three Red Sox to get two hits. The problem was that Napoli, Bogaerts, and Ortiz were the only ones to get a hit at all. The team only had six hits in total.
- Swihart went 0-for-2 with a walk that turned into a run, making his cumulative batting average .237. He’s now only just under .030 percentage points away from big-name signings Pablo Sandoval (.266) and Ramirez (.261). How sad is that?
It wasn’t his fault. Well … it was, but only because the Red Sox put him in the position. After the time that he was having in Pawtucket, Wright should not have been expected to do much else against MLB bats. He allowed six runs on six hits, including two home runs, three walks and three strikeouts in five innings. At least it was just over a run per frame; it could have been worse. Especially when the Red Sox chose to bring up Swihart, a rookie, to handle Wright’s knuckleball. The kid clearly had trouble with it, giving up those passed balls.
Notice that you don’t see Ogando’s name there? That’s because of the home run he gave up to Pujols. While Layne and Breslow pitched their inning apiece, allowing a combined single hit and a strikeout, Ogando’s run must have felt like a dagger in the hearts of Red Sox Nation whom were hoping for a possible comeback.
This category gets easier and easier to write when the Red Sox bats continue to struggle. Nothing much has changed: the Red Sox continue to rely on the fact that their big hitters are supposed to be cranking in runs, especially home runs. The home run happened and yet they still lost. They scored three runs which would be fairly good if the starting pitching was on point. It wasn’t. It was all over the map, very similar to the swings that some of Boston’s batters were taking.
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