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Closing Time: Franklin Morales’ control issues bury Sox in 9-5 Angels win

06.08.13 at 5:08 pm ET
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The seventh inning was highly unlucky for the Red Sox in the first game of their Saturday doubleheader with the Angels: through six, the Angels led just 3-2, with neither starting pitcher having his best day but neither offense fully taking advantage of that fact.

But it all fell apart for the Sox in the seventh, when Franklin Morales gave up four runs on two hits and three walks, turning a close game into an Angels blowout that ended 9-5.

In Morales’ first relief appearance of the year, he threw just nine of his 30 pitches for strikes (although four of those balls did constitute an intentional walk to Albert Pujols). First, Morales gave up a double to Mike Trout that, had it gotten a foot or two higher in the air, would have been a home run into the Monster seats.

Then, after intentionally walking Pujols, he allowed an RBI double down the first-base line to Mark Trumbo, who went the other way on a fastball as the Sox defense had shifted toward the left side, playing him to pull.

Another walk loaded the bases, and then Morales threw eight straight balls, walking Alberto Callaspo and Chris Iannetta to give the Angels a 6-2 lead. Howie Kendrick, whom Morales had walked, scored when Clayton Mortensen allowed a single to Erick Aybar, making it 7-2 by the time the damage was done.

Sox manager John Farrell had said before the game that Morales might be worked back into the starting rotation this upcoming Wednesday, June 12, but his command issues in this outing may make the Sox think twice about that choice.

The Sox didn’t go quietly, rallying in the bottom of the ninth for three runs. But after the bullpen had given up two more runs in the top of the ninth, the deficit proved insurmountable.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– As has often been the case this year, Doubront’s outing was a bit of a mixed bag. His final line wasn’t bad – six innings, three runs on six hits, four strikeouts and two walks. He also came back out to pitch the sixth inning without too much trouble even though Morales had begun warming up in the fifth.

Doubront needed 97 pitches to get through six, though, and while his control was better than that of his opponent, Tommy Hanson, the Angels hit him hard in the second and third, when he gave up all three of his runs. Doubront allowed three singles, a double and a hard-hit sacrifice flyout by Pujols to give the Angels a 3-0 lead.

– The Sox offense could have done quite a bit more against Hanson, who struggled to locate his pitches and gave up four walks and seven hits in five innings. Instead, they stranded 14 runners – two in each of the first four innings.

David Ortiz was held without a hit for only the 10th time in 42 games this season. Ortiz struck out twice against Hanson and went 0-for-5, stranding two runners in the third after Ellsbury, Nava and Dustin Pedroia all reached base.

– The bullpen’s issues began with Morales, but they didn’t end there. Clayton Mortensen gave up two runs on four hits in the eighth and ninth, though both of those runs (one of which was unearned) scored with Andrew Miller on the mound. Miller walked two and gave up a hit before finally getting the final out of the inning on a grounder to short.

It was the second straight rough outing for Mortensen, who gave up two runs on four hits and a walk at Fenway on June 4.

Between Mortensen, Miller, Morales and Doubront, Sox pitchers walked eight batters, tied for a season high.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 11 games, with a double, a single and a walk. He was 2-for-4 on the day. Pedroia also helped Doubront get out of a jam in the fifth inning. With two outs, the Angels had Pujols on first and J.B. Shuck on third when Trumbo hit a hard grounder up the middle. Pedroia slid to his knees to make the grab and threw Trumbo out easily at first, ending the inning.

– Ellsbury followed up an impressive return to the lineup on Thursday with another strong game Saturday. He singled in his first at-bat and walked and scored a run in his third, stealing a base both times. On the negative side, he did also strike out to end the game with two men on.

While it’s tough to quantify the effect Ellsbury’s presence on the bases has on opposing hitters, he did clearly force Hanson to divide his attention between the batter and the runner, and Nava, hitting behind him, took advantage, going 3-for-5.

Mike Carp hit his fifth home run of the year to right field, continuing to provide surprisingly consistent power for the Sox. Of his 26 hits, 16 have gone for extra bases.

Carp’s solo shot in the fourth inning also got the Sox on the board at a point when, despite reaching base consistently against Hanson, they hadn’t been able to push a run across yet. After Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled in the bottom of the ninth, Carp also drove in the first run of the Sox’ late rally with a line-drive single to center.

– With a single in the eighth inning and another in the ninth, Iglesias extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games. That’s the longest hitting streak by an AL rookie this season and the longest active streak by any rookie in the majors.

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