|Closing Time: Red Sox 7, Angels 5||08.18.10 at 10:21 pm ET|
The Red Sox are hanging around.
Using a spirited comeback after falling behind by three runs in the fifth inning, the Red Sox went to 9-0 against the Angels for the season, this time earning a 7-5 victory over LA, Wednesday night at Fenway Park. With both the Yankees and Rays winning, the Sox remain six games behind both teams for first-place — and the wild card. (For a recap click here.)
Here is all that went right and wrong for the Red Sox in the second game of their three-game set with the Angels:
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
- The pinch-hitting strategy of Terry Francona worked out in the seventh inning without either batter swinging the bat. That was all thinks to Angels’ reliever Kevin Jepson. First J.D. Drew came to bat with the bases loaded, pinch-hitting for Bill Hall. After taking the first pitch for a strike, Jepson bounced his second offering, allowing Victor Martinez to come in with the game-tying run. After LA manager Mike Scioscia elected to intentionally walk Drew, Francona turned to Daniel Nava to pinch-hit for Darnell McDonald, with Nava not only hitting .324 from the left side of the plate, but .435 with runners in scoring position. After building an 0-2 count, Jepson would hit Nava in the back, forcing in David Ortiz with the g0-ahead run. Ryan Kalish ended the inning with a 4-3 double play, but the damage had already been done.
- Nava’s presence paid off once again in the eighth, this time in the field. With two outs , Daniel Bard on in relief, and Callaspo representing the tying run at second, Maicier Izturis blooped a shallow fly to left that would have undoubtedly tied the game if not caught. But Nava raced in, stretched out, and managed to catch the fly ball, ending the inning and threat.
- Bill Hall continued his power stroke, hitting one of Fenway’s longest homers of the season, over the Volvo sign in left-center. The home run was the utilityman’s 16th of the season, putting him on pace to have the most homers for a Red Sox hitter with less than 350 at-bats since Ted Williams’ 29 (310 at-bats, 1960). (For what it’s worth: Even after Evan Longoria hit his 16th of the season earlier in the day, Hall remains tied with the Tampa Bay third baseman.)
- The middle of the order came through in fine fashion for the Red Sox, with Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, and Adrian Beltre all came away with multiple hit performances. Martinez managed three hits (including an eighth-inning single that added an insurance run), Ortiz claimed a pair of hits (including a double), and Beltre’s finished with two hits, three RBI, and a two-run homer in the fifth.
- Jonathan Papelbon continued to pitch lights-out at home, where came into Tuesday night with a 2.22 ERA compared to a 4.10 mark on the road. Since giving up two runs to the Yankees on April 7, Papelbon had gone 13 of 14 in save opportunities at Fenway while striking out 24 and walking just five in 22 innings of work. This time around the closer came on to pitch a perfect ninth for his 30th save.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
- John Lackey is still having some issues. Despite getting his 11th win, it was not one of the righty’s better outings, with Lackey giving up at least five runs for the third time in his last four appearances. His final line: 7 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 119 pitches. The most discouraging moment of the performance came fifth inning after the Red Sox had tied it up at 2-2 thanks to Bill Hall’s homer. Lackey came back in the next half inning and the Angels to regain momentum thanks to Alberto Callaspo’s three-run homer into the right field corner.
- Hall, while still showing value offensively, fell short on a Maicer Izturis fly ball in the left field corner with two outs in the second inning. While it wasn’t an easy play, Hall appeared to pull up just enough while approaching the wall along the left-field foul line that the ball fell in and out of his glove. It was the first time Hall had played left field in Fenway Park since Aug. 4.
- Both Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury spoke to the media regarding their injuries, not relaying the best of news. Ellsbury’s interview session lasted less than 30 second, with the outfielder saying, “We’re not sure yet” when asked if he was coming back this season. The rest of his comments were as follows: “It’s a broken rib in the back, broken in the exact same place as I broke it before. Basically, when I come back, I’ll be stronger than ever when I do come back.” (For more on Ellsbury click here.) Cameron confirmed that he would be having surgery, but expects to be ready when next season rolls around.“Everyone knows I’ve been battling all year so it’s time,” the 37-year-old Cameron said of his upcoming surgery on his lower abdomen injury. “I can’t go on the field and compete in this moment like I would like to, so it’s time.” (For more on Cameron click here.)
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