Thursday, August 23, 2012 Updated: August 24, 10:32 AM ET
Sox keep finding new ways to lose
By Gordon Edes ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Granted, it's not likely to be seen on a NESN promo, but there might be a word that aptly describes the Red Sox season in 2012 and, more specifically, Thursday's 10-inning, 4-hour-and-34-minute, seeing-it-doesn't-mean-you-believe-it, 14-13 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Wackadoodle? No, that's first runner-up on a night in which the Sox ended a 170-game winning streak: the consecutive times they had won games in which they'd scored 13 runs or more, the last loss a 22-13 beating by the White Sox on May 31, 1970.
The word for this occasion, the 51st time this season a big league team has scored 13 runs, but only the second time it lost? Try perseveration, which is like the evil twin of persevering.
Somehow 13 runs didn't add up to a win for the Sox, who'd won 170 straight when scoring 13-plus.
We celebrate those who persevere -- the ones who strive and battle and hang in there regardless of the obstacles before them. There was plenty of that Thursday night from both the Red Sox and Angels, who combined for five lead changes, four ties and at least one run scored in each of the last six innings, seven runs in the last two. The Angels had 20 hits, the Sox 18. The Angels hit two home runs, the Sox three. The Angels used seven pitchers, the Sox eight.
The Angels, who had arrived in town burdened by their own mounting problems, are likely to celebrate this one long into the winter if it winds up a springboard to the playoffs: down 6-0, down to their last out (super rookie Mike Trout scoring the tying run on a throw that seemingly beat him to the plate), down no more when Kendry Morales broke a 12-all tie in the 10th with a home run off Alfredo Aceves. Winners when Ernesto Frieri struck out Adrian Gonzalez with the tying run on base, giving the Halos a three-game sweep.
"This team still has some fight in it," said Vernon Wells, whose one-out home run in the ninth began the Angels' three-run rally, when they took a 12-11 lead only to have Cody Ross tie it with a home run in the bottom of the ninth off Frieri.
But perseveration? That word -- one your friendly neighborhood shrink might toss at you while you're sprawled on his couch -- belongs exclusively to the Red Sox. It refers to "the pathological, persistent repetition of a word, gesture or act" -- in this case, the repeated act of losing badly.
Too highfalutin for you? Try Alfredo Aceves' interpretation.
"We're playing [expletive], [expletive] baseball," said Aceves, who Thursday night probably stepped in it more than anyone else in a Sox uniform with the possible exception of Bobby Valentine, the manager who elected to send Aceves out for a second inning of work after he'd been knocked around for three runs in the ninth, when he blew an 11-9 Sox advantage.
Not that Aceves, who negated the game-tying home run Cody Ross hit in the bottom of the ninth when Kendry Morales took him deep to open the 10th, was accepting anything other than one-twenty-fifth of the blame for this one.
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"I missed a couple of pitches, yeah, obviously," said Aceves, who in the span of 10 batters gave up six hits, including the home runs by Morales and Wells (which would not have survived a review had one been requested by the Sox), walked one, blew a save and was charged with the loss but made a concerted effort to spread the blame.
"It's not about that, that we lost the game. There were like  runs, so it's not that I pitched one pitch and that was it. It was the entire game, the entire game."
Aceves had a point, but it was well within his power to wipe away all the Sox's mistakes on this night, one of the most glaring being Ross' misplay in the ninth that allowed Trout to take an extra base after his two-out single. Torii Hunter followed with another base hit to tie the score, took second on a walk and scored the go-ahead run on a base hit by Mark Trumbo.
It took Aceves 33 pitches to finish the ninth. It was Valentine's call to return him to the mound in the 10th, a decision for which he was booed ferociously, more so than when the third inning unraveled after he gave Morales a quick hook.
"It was basically the same thing Scioscia did," Valentine said. "He's a closer, he gives up a lead. Two left-handers in the bullpen and they had a right-handed lineup. I had three innings left, I [wanted] to squeeze another inning out. It obviously was the wrong decision."
Andrew Miller and Craig Breslow were the lefties in the 'pen. "Three switches, everybody else hitting right-handed," Miller said. "Tough lineup. It's why he didn't use us this series."
Yes, Angels manager Mike Scioscia left in his closer, Frieri, for a second inning, but Frieri in the first inning made one mistake, the home run pitch to Ross. By Valentine's own admission, Aceves was throwing fastballs right down the middle.
Breslow eventually got the call when Erick Aybar followed the Morales home run with a base hit, and Wells greeted him with a run-scoring double. That extra run enabled the Angels to withstand one final Sox rally, singles by Pedro Ciriaco and Dustin Pedroia accounting for a run before Adrian Gonzalez struck out to end it.
Valentine looked ashen when told replays showed Wells' home run did not go over the red line, as required by the ground rules, but instead hit the edge and came back.
"It looked like it bounced straight up -- I didn't know that," he said.
Yes, he said, he often looks to his outfielders for help in such an instance.
"I didn't see anyone thinking it was not a home run," Valentine said.
Those are the things that happen when persevering gives way to perseveration.
"It was a wild game," said Pedroia, who had four hits, including a three-run home run. "We've just got to try to find a way to win those."
These days, any kind of win would suffice. The Sox are 6-15 in August, have lost four in a row and are 0-5 in extra-inning games at Fenway. It's perseveration, I tell you. And there's no cure in sight.