BOSTON -- Adrian Gonzalez, meet The Wall.
Wall, meet Adrian Gonzalez.
What was supposed to be the perfect baseball romance hasn’t been quite love at first sight. But Monday night, Gonzalez planted his first hit of consequence off the Monster, a three-run double in the seventh inning that broke open a close game, was the flashpoint of Boston’s biggest inning of the season, and extended a mastery over the Angels that defies rational explanation.
Earth to Halos, hello?: The Angels were swept four straight by the Red Sox in Anaheim (April 21-24), getting outscored by the visitors 20-5 while being held scoreless for the last 19 innings. That streak ended at 21 when the Angels scored in the third inning against Clay Buchholz on a two-out double by Maicer Izturis and a single by Bobby Abreu. The Angels took a 2-1 lead in the fifth, their first lead against the Sox this season, on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by Abreu.
But even behind Jered Weaver, who came into the game undefeated and was bidding to become the first pitcher since 19th century moundsman Sadie McMahon to be 7-0 by May 2, the Angels could not make that lead stand up.
The Sox regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run single by Dustin Pedroia, and put six runs on the board in the seventh against the Angels’ bullpen, with Kevin Youkilis following Gonzalez’s blast off the center-field wall with a double to left and David Ortiz hitting his first home run in a month, off Francisco (Don’t call me K-Rod) Rodriguez.
The Red Sox, who matched their season high in runs scored, have now beaten the Angels five times this season and 14 of 15 meetings since Vladi Guerrero ruined Jonathan Papelbon’s winter, and sent the Sox home early, in the 2009 playoffs.
Mini-man, mini-epic: Pedroia’s go-ahead hit came after a fabulous 13-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off seven two-strike pitches before smacking a drive up the middle to score two runs. The inning began with a double by Carl Crawford, who had two more hits Monday, giving him four in two games, and featured lengthy at-bats by Jason Varitek (full-count walk) and Jacoby Ellsbury (force play).
In the top of the inning, Pedroia made a remarkable defensive play, somehow reversing direction after Abreu’s ball glanced off Buchholz to glove the ball and turn it into an out instead of a freak hit.
The exhausting inning took its toll on Weaver, who was lifted after six innings and 118 pitches. The Sox then beat up on the Angels' bullpen.
Big sticks, big inning: In five of Boston’s last six games, they scored four runs or fewer five times, but in the seventh inning Monday they scored six times. Varitek started the rally with a single up the middle off reliever Hisanori Takahashi, and Ellsbury followed with a double to left. Angels manager Mike Scisocia summoned Rodriguez, and Pedroia, after swinging mightily and missing at a 3-and-0 pitch, drew a walk to load the bases.
That brought up Gonzalez, who doubled high off the wall in center, clearing the bases. Gonzalez has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games and nine in a row (15-for-38, .395). He also made a terrific gambling throw to third to erase Torii Hunter after his leadoff double in the sixth, when it was still a one-run game.
Two batters later, Ortiz homered for the first time in 89 at-bats, an opposite-field drive into the Monster seats.
Caution flag: Ellsbury did not come out for the eighth inning, replaced in center field by Darnell McDonald. The Sox announced he had a bruised left knee.
Buchholz gets the W: Clay Buchholz (2-3) went 6 2/3 innings, holding the Angels to two runs on eight hits and two walks, while whiffing two, for the win. Dan Wheeler had a messy stint out of the 'pen, giving up four hits and three runs.