Diary of a 13-inning, 7-plus-hour loss
May, 5, 2011
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- The first pitch of the night was thrown by Josh Beckett at 7:10 p.m. under rainy skies.
The last pitch was thrown by Angels reliever Trevor Bell, at 2:45 a.m., the rain finally having ended.
In between? If it wasn't the longest night in Sox history, it had to be close, with a time of game of 5 hours and a rain delay of 2 hours 35 minutes. The last game that lasted longer officially at Fenway Park was 5 hours 2 minutes, and the Red Sox lost that one, too, 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays in 14 innings on Sept. 10, 2008. Sox officials said that Elias Sports Bureau could not say with any certainty that, including the rain delay, this was the longest of them all.
"When I showed up today I didn't think I'd be talking to you guys at 3 in the morning,'' manager Terry Francona said. "And if I did, I wished we had won.''
The game was won by Bobby Abreu's two-run, two-out single in the 13th off Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was the eighth pitcher of the night for the Sox and was making his first relief appearance in the big leagues. Francona used all of his relievers except for Bobby Jenks, whose arm "cramped up" in the bullpen, according to the manager.
Francona also used all of his position players except for J.D. Drew, who had been benched before the game then was stricken by a bout of vertigo during the game, the manager said, making him unavailable to hit. "He came down and tried to hit in the fifth,'' Francona said of Drew's attempts to take some swings in the batting cage behind the dugout, "but he was all over the place.''
There are likely to be roster moves made before Thursday afternoon's game. "We probably at least have to think about it,'' Francona said.
The Sox were down to their last strike in regulation when they tied the score in the bottom of the ninth on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury. They began the inning down by two runs, 3-1, but scored on a wild pitch and throwing error by catcher Hank Conger. Mike Cameron, who took second on the wild pitch, tried to take third on the throwing error, but the ball had struck third-base umpire John Hirschbeck and was retrieved by shortstop Erick Aybar, who cut down Cameron at third.
Even though Cameron ran into the first out of the inning, a decision that looked even worse when Carl Crawford followed with a double, Francona said he didn't fault him on the play. The ball hitting the umpire, he said, made all the difference.
"I thought their guy [Aybar] made a pretty good play,'' Francona said. "He's running full speed, barehands it and when that ball goes by third, Cam's going. That's unfortunate, if it didn't hit the umpire, it probably rolls to the corner. It's unfortunate, but it's hard to blame Cameron for running there.
"It's terrible, but I don't second-guess what he was doing.''
Aybar would make another critical throw, nailing Marco Scutaro at the plate in the 12th as he tried to score from first on a double by Kevin Youkilis that hit high off the Wall in left and just missed being a home run.
"They did what they had to do,'' Francona said. "That was our chance to win the game, and they got it in the air and they got it where it needed to be and beat us to the plate. We were all on the top step of the dugout, thinking maybe we'd go home, and it turns out we didn't.''
The Angels had lost six straight and 15 of 16 to the Red Sox, dating back to the start of 2010.
A review of the night:
There was one out in the Angels fifth with Vernon Wells at the plate when the game was halted at 8:30 p.m. Josh Beckett was pitching for the Sox at the time, and had allowed just one hit. That was one more than Angels pitcher Ervin Santana had allowed through four innings. Neither pitcher had allowed a run, and both pitchers were done for the night.
During the rain delay, the Sox showed the Bruins game on the new video scoreboard. People cheered the Bruins' first power-play goal of the playoffs. The hockey game ended. They put on the Yankees game, for a little while. Gave people a chance to boo.
At 9:45 p.m., the Sox posted on the scoreboard that the rain was expected to subside in the next 15 to 20 minutes. They were wrong. The game resumed at 11:05 p.m. The pressbox sent out for pizza. Deadlines, for the print guys, were blown, and in jeopardy for the West Coast guys.
The Red Sox didn't have a hit until Jed Lowrie singled off Scott Downs, the third Angels pitcher, with one out in the seventh. It was 12:17 a.m.
By then, the Red Sox were losing, 2-0, after another dreadful appearance by Dan Wheeler, the Rhode Island native who always wanted to come home to pitch, but not like this. Wheeler relieved Matt Albers at the start of the seventh and was greeted by a double by Howie Kendrick. He got two quick strikes on Wells, but Wells hit the next pitch off the light tower in left. The tower was still vibrating an inning later.
The game was a sellout, but with the rain falling for most of the night, there were acres of empty seats throughout and just a few thousand fans left after the delay. PA announcer Carl Beane invited them to take any seat in the house, and Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, chairman Tom Werner, owner John W. Henry and Henry's wife, Linda Pizzuti, served coffee and hot chocolate to the diehards.
The Sox finally scored in the eighth. Jason Varitek, batting .125, rifled a double just inside the first-base bag. Ellsbury's ground ball moved him to third, and Dustin Pedroia struck out for the third time, a first in his big-league career. But Adrian Gonzalez hit a dribbler to the left of the mound for an infield hit, and when pitcher Fernando Rodney slipped and threw wildly to the plate, Gonzalez took second.
Youkilis then lined a single to left, but he hit it too hard to score Scutaro, the pinch runner who stopped at third. David Ortiz then lined out to center, and the Angels still had their lead.
L.A. made it 3-1 in the top of the ninth after loading the bases on an infield hit and bloop single off Hideki Okajima and a walk by Tim Wakefield, Sunday's starter who entered the game at 12:54 a.m. Aybar's sacrifice fly made it 3-1. Abreu then flied out to deep right where Cameron made the catch, then fired the ball into the infield. Oops. It was the third out. That was at 1 a.m. It would not be his last mistake of the night/morning.
Lowrie opened the bottom of the ninth with a walk issued by Jordan Walden, the Angels' young closer. Cameron followed by lining a single to left. The tying runs were on base. It was 1:10 a.m.
With Carl Crawford at the plate, Walden uncorked a wild pitch. Lowrie took third and when catcher Conger's throw was wild, hitting third-base umpire John Hirschbeck in the leg and rolling toward short, Lowrie scored. Cameron also was on the move, taking second on the wild pitch, but was thrown out at third by shortstop Aybar. A reckless mistake, given he was the potential tying run, already in scoring position with no outs, though Francona defended him afterward.
It looked even worse when Crawford doubled to left-center, and potentially fatal when Varitek struck out. But Ellsbury, who had gone hitless in four trips and with his hitting streak about to end, hit a full-count pitch into right field for a game-tying single. It was 1:16 a.m. Pedroia rolled into a force, and it was on to extra innings.
By then, the announced attendance of 37,037 was down to the size of a high school crowd. It was 1:17 a.m. Beer sales, according to the Sox, had ended 2 1/2 hours after first pitch, which was at 7:10. The "T" had shut down at least an hour earlier. Nomar, in the broadcast booth for ESPN, soldiered on, resplendent in a black suit.
At 1:55 a.m., this tweet was received from @LeviteJester: "@GordonEdes nothing like waking up in #Jerusalem and having ur twitter play by play on ride to work!''
Carl Crawford opened the bottom of the 11th. Trevor Bell threw ball one. At 2 a.m., he threw ball 2.
At that moment, this tweet arrived from @BobFuton: @gordonedes just woke up in amsterdam. Go sox!
In the bullpen, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had spent most of the night sitting in the front row of the dugout in the rain, wrapped in a hoodie, began to warm up in the bullpen. He has never pitched in relief in the big leagues. The last time he pitched in relief was in 2004. For the Seibu Lions. In Japan.
At 2:04 a.m., Ellsbury whiffed, and it was on to the 12th. Bard came back out to pitch another inning.
By now, the rain had stopped completely. Finally.
Pedroia, leading off the 12th, went down swinging for the fourth time. It was 2:17 a.m. Pedroia had never whiffed three times in a game before Wednesday night. He never had whiffed four times, either. Of course, he'd never played a game at 2:17 a.m. before.
At 2:21 a.m., Youkilis crushed a drive to left field that hit high off the wall. Left fielder Wells waited for the carom, and fired a throw to shortstop Aybar as Scutaro, rounding the bag at third, was windmilled home by third-base coach Tim Bogar. Aybar threw a strike to the plate. Scutaro was out.
The night played on.
The next batter was Darnell McDonald, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Ortiz in the 10th. McDonald hit a slow roller to third, where Youkilis was steaming in from second. The ball glanced off the glove of third baseman Alberto Callaspo, then bounced off Youkilis. Youkilis thought for a moment of going home. The moment passed. He awkwardly planted himself on the third-base bag.
Lowire rolled out to first, and it was on to the 13th.
At 2:25 a.m., Matsuzaka trotted in from the bullpen, the eighth Boston pitcher of the night. The Angels had used six, and no was warming in their pen.
By 2:28 a.m., the Angels had a runner on, as Kendrick led off with a single off the glove of Lowrie, who had moved to first after Gonzalez was lifted for a pinch runner in the eighth.
In the visitors' TV booth, Angels broadcaster Mark Gubicza, the former pitcher, was wearing a mask, the kind Mexican wrestlers wear. So was his partner, Victor Rojas. Don't ask.
(Well, if you must know, the masks are giveaways at the Angels' next homestand.)
At 2:37 a.m., the Angels had loaded the bases. Bourjos flared a single with two outs, and Aybar walked on a full count. The batter was Bobby Abreu, 0-for-6 on the night, although he'd lined out hard three times.
At 2:39 a.m., Abreu shot a ground ball through the right side. Two runs scored, Cameron overran the ball, and the Angels still had runners on the corners.
The guys in the Mexican wrestling masks cheered.
Maicer Izturis popped to second, and the Angels' 13th was over. Matsuzaka walked off the mound at 2:40 a.m. Who gets booed at that hour? Matsuzaka does, by the handful of fans still here.
At 2:42 a.m., this tweet is received from @KeithKatsoulis: "@GordonEdes good news is no traffic thru Kenmore."
Cameron popped to second. Crawford tapped back to the pitcher. Francona made his final move of the night, sending Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the last player on his bench, to pinch hit for Varitek.
Saltalamacchia lined out to left, where Vernon Wells made the catch. It was 2:45 a.m., 3:45 in the afternoon in Tokyo, near the start of the afternoon commute.
Time of game: 5 hours, exactly. Add in the rain delay, and it was 7 hours 35 minutes.
First pitch Thursday afternoon was scheduled for 1:35 p.m. Ten hours and 50 minutes after the end of this one.
At 3:02 a.m., the door leading from the clubhouse to the upstairs interview room opened, and Francona walked in.
"When I showed up today I didn't think I'd be talking to you guys at 3 in the morning,'' he said. "And if I did, I wished we had won.''
At 3:06 a.m., he was finished answering questions.
"See you soon,'' he said.