BOSTON -- For the third time during their 11-game homestand, a key Red Sox error in one inning ultimately contributed to the team’s loss.
This time around, however, it was two errors in one play.
Down by just a run entering the eighth inning, reliever Junichi Tazawa made a fielding and throwing miscue in a matter of seconds that allowed two runs to score. The runs ended up being decisive, as the Red Sox scored in the bottom of the ninth but lost 4-2 to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
In splitting two out of four games against the Houston Astros over the weekend, both Red Sox losses were marked by mental mistakes by shortstop Xander Bogaerts that gave Houston extra outs to work with. In both cases, those extra outs led to runs.
Monday night featured more of a visibly sloppy series of errors. Tazawa put himself in trouble immediately, walking the first batter he faced -- Angels No. 9 man Chris Iannetta -- before giving up a double to Kole Calhoun to put runners at second and third. In stepped Mike Trout, one of the game’s most dangerous hitters.
But Tazawa won the battle handily, striking Trout out on three pitches.
Then came Albert Pujols, who Tazawa fell behind 2-0 before deciding to intentionally walk him. Now facing a bases-loaded, one-out situation, Tazawa desperately needed a ground ball from Howie Kendrick.
Needing only one pitch, he got just that in the form of a comebacker to the mound. But Tazawa failed to field the grounder cleanly, allowing the ball to bounce off his glove. In desperation, he quickly barehanded the ball off the infield grass and threw it home, toward a sliding Iannetta in front of the plate. The ball bounced off Iannetta and toward the Red Sox dugout, allowing both he and Calhoun to score for the Angels.
“We get into a situation where two guys get on to lead off the inning,” manager John Farrell explained. “The strikeout of Trout, obviously the big out in the inning. Knowing that Pujols isn’t likely to expand the zone, we walked the bases loaded and get the comebacker. Unfortunately, what looked like a potential inning-ending double play turns into runs for them.”
“It was an in-between play,” Tazawa said through an interpreter. “If I had knocked it down straight forward I probably had a better shot. It rolled to the third base side so that made it a little bit difficult. I should have made that play.”
The runs allowed brought Tazawa’s total since the start of July to 12, four more than he had allowed from March until the end of June. Could the Japanese right-hander be feeling fatigued between last year’s heavy workload (71 games) and this season?
“I don’t feel different physically compared to last year,” Tazawa said. “It’ s probably more mental. I’ve been giving up unlucky hits here and there but I still appreciate the team using me in one role.”
Starter Brandon Workman pitched the first seven innings for the Red Sox, allowing two runs on six hits and being tabbed with the loss in his seventh straight outing. Workman said he felt stronger Monday night than he had in other outings as a result of the extended rest he received having not pitched since coming in as a reliever during the Red Sox’s 19-inning game against the Angels Aug. 9.
“I think it had to have helped,” Workman said. “My velocity was better. I had the chance to work on some things mechanically. I felt good tonight, I felt like I got in a nice rhythm early and was able to carry that through.”
Although the errors seem glaring, the Red Sox’s offense didn't do much to help the cause either, leaving 12 runners on base and going 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position. On several occasions, including having runners on first and third with no outs in the ninth and only getting a run, the offense failed to capitalize on an inning like the Angels did.
“Once again, I thought we had a very good approach offensively,” Farrell said. “A number of opportunities. And still, getting the key base hit was critical tonight.”