Boston Red Sox: Mark Trumbo
June, 8, 2013
By Steven Krasner | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- The top of the seventh inning was ugly for the Red Sox.
Franklin Morales, pitching for the first time in nine days, lost total contact with the strike zone, ultimately walking three straight batters with two outs, the last two of which received four-pitch, bases-loaded free passes to force home a couple of runs.
After he was finally yanked and trudged to the dugout while the restless crowd of 34,499 voiced its displeasure with his outing, Clayton Mortensen was nicked for an infield RBI single, tacking a fourth run onto Morales' log before the final out was recorded, and a close game had been blown open by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
But while the performance of Morales, who entered in the seventh in relief of Felix Doubront, was a clear focal point in the Red Sox' 9-5 setback, Boston's offense had to shoulder its share of blame in the loss in the opener of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park despite a spirited two-out, three-run rally in the ninth.
Boston batters had a difficult time coming through in the clutch against Angels starter Tommy Hanson, who labored through five innings and allowed seven hits and walked four in a 114-pitch struggle.
The Red Sox were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position over the first five innings.
And it was some of Boston's top hitters who failed most significantly.
In the first inning, with runners at second and third and one out, David Ortiz waved weakly at a curveball for a strikeout, and then Mike Napoli grounded out to third. In the second, Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury failed to deliver with runners at first and second.
The third inning was similar to the opening inning. Ortiz swung and missed at a curveball for a strikeout with runners at first and second, Napoli took a called third strike and Jarrod Saltalamacchia popped up to third.
Daniel Nava snapped the drought with an RBI single in the fourth, narrowing the Angels' lead to 3-2, but with runners at first and third and two outs later in the inning, Ortiz again failed, this time grounding out to second and stranding his fifth and sixth runners of the day.
The Sox had one other chance to overtake the Angels. With runners at first and second and one out in the sixth, Dustin Pedroia scalded the ball, but shortstop Erick Aybar deftly short-hopped the smash and turned it into an inning-ending double play, keeping it a 3-2 game.
And then the Angels, thanks to seventh-inning doubles by Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo as well as Morales' wildness, put the game out of reach. Andrew Miller punctuated the forgettable afternoon by walking home a run in the Angels' two-run ninth, putting the visitors on top 9-2.
Decent outing: Felix Doubront (4-3) was saddled with the loss. He pitched decently, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings, but his pitch count hit 97 on his final pitch of the sixth inning, prompting manager John Farrell to opt for Morales to open the seventh.
Predictable pitch, positive result: In Mike Carp's second at-bat, leading off the fourth, Hanson slipped a breaking ball over for a called strike on the first pitch. His second pitch was another breaking ball, which Carp took for another strike. Hanson tried a third breaking pitch, a slower curveball, but bounced it on his next delivery, making the count 1-and-2.
It's unusual for a pitcher to double up on breaking balls, let alone throw three in a row. So the reasonable expectation was that Hanson would throw a fastball on his next delivery. He did, and Carp was ready for it, launching a home run into the Angels bullpen for Boston's first run of the game and cutting the Sox deficit to 3-1. The homer traveled 434 feet, making it the longest homer hit at Fenway this season by a batter other than Ortiz, who has blasts of 446 and 439 feet to his credit.
In Carp's next at-bat against Hanson in the fifth, the pitch sequence went changeup (strike called), slider (ball), slider (ball). With the count 2-and-1, Hanson stayed away from a predictable fastball and threw a changeup. But Carp was able to keep his weight back and he drilled a two-out single to right-center.
Bad luck: With Ellsbury at second and none out in the first, Nava ripped a shot up the middle. The ball struck Hanson's foot and ricocheted right to third baseman Alberto Callaspo.
Ellsbury, running on contact on what could have been an RBI single up the middle, was instead caught in a rundown. And even though Callaspo dropped the ball when he tagged Ellsbury halfway between second and third, Callaspo was able to pick up the ball and throw to Hanson covering third for the easy out.