Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Updated: September 17, 8:29 AM ET
October comes early at Fenway
By Amy K. Nelson
BOSTON -- It had been more than six weeks since Jed Lowrie had a major league at-bat. Nick Green had just two hits all month and thought there wasn't the slightest chance he would be able to hit anything thrown at him. The Angels needed just one last strike, at Fenway Park, with an October chill in the air, against a team that had only three game-winning hits all season. And then it happened again.
Somehow, the Red Sox were again able to inflict damage on their West Coast foes, coming from behind three times after the fifth inning Wednesday night to beat the Angels 9-8 on a game-winning hit by No. 9 hitter Alex Gonzalez. It was Boston's seventh straight win and its 10th in a row at Fenway.
"I was holding my breath the last two innings," said manager Terry Francona, "just hoping for a break or for something good to happen. And we got it."
The Red Sox still have won only three of their last eight games at Fenway against the Angels, but that's only during the regular season. The last time the Angels had seen Lowrie, he was hitting the game-winning single in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, sending the Angels home and to their 12th loss in 13 postseason games against Boston.
"I'm never going to forget that moment -- my rookie year, getting a walk-off hit," Lowrie said. On Wednesday night, "it was a different situation, but similar result."
This time, Lowrie hit a sharp single to third base, right at Chone Figgins, for a two-out infield hit in the ninth inning. That loaded the bases and set up the at-bat for Green, and later Gonzalez.
It's not even October yet, but in the first two games of this series, the Red Sox have beaten the Angels with pitching and with bench players.
"I can't believe what a great game that was," said Paul Byrd, who gave up three runs in his fourth start with the team. "It wasn't just the superstars ... it was guys like Nick Green coming up to the plate cold, and Jed Lowrie getting the job done. It was a total team effort and it was awesome to watch."
Not for the Angels, who left the field angry and yelling at the umpiring crew.
The dispute was over Green's pinch hit at-bat in the ninth inning. With the count 0-2 and the bases loaded, Angels closer Brian Fuentes threw a ball and Green checked his swing.
Green appeared to nearly fall over, but first base umpire Jeff Kellogg did not rule in favor of the Angels' appeal. Angels manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher were incensed, both throwing their hands up in the air.
|Alex Gonzalez's bloop game-winning single capped off a wild ninth inning.|
"I'm standing on [first] base, looking at them, and they're basically jumping up and down," said Lowrie, who missed a good portion of the season after wrist surgery.
Fuentes walked Green with a low, borderline pitch. It was the first time in the major leagues this season a player drew a game-tying walk on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth inning.
"I was basically fighting for my life up there," said Green, who added his right leg had been bothering him the past few days. "I don't even think I could put the ball in play. I couldn't really swing."
The bases were still loaded, the game was tied, and then Gonzalez followed with a single to left field, as the Red Sox walked off the field winners again.
In the Angels' clubhouse after, Fuentes said the game was taken away by the umpires and suggested that the umpiring crews at Fenway tend to have a bias against the visiting teams. Fuentes also singled out plate umpire Rick Reed and his call on the 3-2 pitch to Green.
"That's a big pitch, a huge pitch," Fuentes said. "I'm buckling down, the hitter's buckling down, and [Reed] needs to do the same. I'm frustrated right now, emotionally. I know in my heart of hearts it wasn't something against me, but for whatever reason he missed the call."
As the umpires walked off the field and the Angels' coaches and players appeared to be yelling at them, Butcher went over to Fuentes and shook his hand, telling him, "Way to throw the ball." Butcher then went in and watched video replays of Green's at-bat.
"It is what it is; it's on national TV," Butcher said. When asked what his conclusions were after seeing the replay, he told reporters: "Why don't you guys watch the video, I'm sure it will be on replay all night."
Byrd saw plenty of those replays while sitting in the clubhouse during the ninth inning. The 38-year-old righty was screaming at the TV, ice wrapped on his arm, jubilant that the calls, the hops, the bloops, all of it, went Boston's way. Yet again.
Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com and ESPNBoston.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at twitter.com/amyknelson.
I was basically fighting for my life up there. I don't even think I could put the ball in play. I couldn't really swing.
-- Nick Green