|Closing Time: Red Sox misery continues in another loss to Angels||08.23.12 at 11:47 pm ET|
Almost five months into the season, the Red Sox are still finding new ways to lose.
A season full of failures and controversy may have hit its tipping point Thursday night. A 6-0 lead vanished in the blink of an eye as starting pitcher Franklin Morales and reliever Clayton Mortensen combined to give up eight runs in the third inning. As Bobby Valentine exited his spot in the dugout to relieve Mortensen of his duties, boos rained down heavily at Fenway Park as the Red Sox faced yet another devastating loss in its ugly season.
And it was only the beginning.
The Red Sox eventually stormed back to take an 11-9 lead going into the ninth inning, only to see it wipe away in the blink of an eye again as closer Alfredo Aceves surrendered three unanswered runs to give the Angels a 12-11 lead. Cody Ross tied the game in the bottom half of the inning with a solo shot into the Monster seats and the game was then sent to extras, where Aceves, still in the game, gave away a leadoff solo homer to Kendrys Morales to deep right, the final nail in the coffin of a wild back-and-forth affair at Fenway Park as the Angels finally prevailed in 10 innings, 14-13.
Here’s what went right and wrong for the Red Sox as their losing streak stretched to four games in a series-sweeping loss.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
• To put it bluntly, the third inning was a train wreck for the Red Sox that you simply couldn’t keep your eyes away from watching. The Angels came to bat 13 times and crossed the plate eight times in the frame to completely erase the 6-0 deficit the Red Sox built in the first two innings and take an 8-6 lead. Seven of the eight runs came with two outs, including Franklin Morales’ bases-loaded walk to Kendrys Morales that started six consecutive plate appearances from Angels hitters that resulted in a run scored.
Morales was then yanked after third baseman Pedro Ciriaco dropped a ground ball and let the Angels close the deficit to 6-3. Mortenson, however, pitched disastrously in relief as he didn’t record an out, walked in a run and then yielded three consecutive hits that gave the Angels their 8-6 lead before being relieved for Junichi Tazawa.
The eight runs given up in the inning are tied for the most this season. The Red Sox gave up eight runs in the eighth inning on April 17 against the Rangers en route to giving up 18 runs in the game.
• The Red Sox blew not one, but two leads, the latter of which came with two outs in the ninth as they were on the brink of victory. After giving up a solo homer to Vernon Wells, Aceves gave up a bloop single to right to Mike Trout, who stretched it to second after Ross mishandled it. Then, a batter later, Torii Hunter singled to left, allowing Trout to score on a play at the plate to tie the game at 11.
After walking Howie Kendrick, Aceves then surrendered a single to Mark Trumbo, allowing Hunter to score the go-ahead run.
• Morales had his worst outing since July 7, when he also gave up six runs in a loss to New York. The 2 2/3 innings he pitched Thursday was the shortest outing of any of his starts this season. Only two runs were earned, but a disastrous third inning in which he could barely find the strike zone and gave up three hits and two walks ultimately ended his night early.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
• Jacoby Ellsbury nearly single-handedly lifted the Red Sox out of their funk, going 3-for-6 with three RBIs, including a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth that gave the Red Sox a 10-9 lead at the time. The center fielder also was responsible for an RBI double in the sixth that tied the game back at 9-9.
• Unlike Morales and Mortensen, Junichi Tazawa pitched masterfully in his relief outing. He was first able to end the Angels’ run in the third with one pitch before pitching a perfect 1-2-3 inning in the fourth. In 20 appearances and 26 1/3 innings this season, Tazawa has been brilliant, posting a 1.37 ERA, 22 strikeouts and just two walks.
• Despite the horrid third inning, the Red Sox offense was on point starting early, which allowed them to stay in the game. With one swing of the bat in the sixth, Mike Aviles tied things back up at 8-8 with a solo home run into the Monster seats. It was his 12th home run of the season.
• Scott Podsednik continued his tear against Angels pitching this series with an RBI single up the middle in the second that scored Mauro Gomez from second base and extended the Red Sox lead to 2-0. He later singled again in the eighth to bring his series total against the Angels to 7-for-13.
• Dustin Pedroia crushed an offering from C.J. Wilson in the second inning and sent it flying into the Monster seats for a three-run homer, his 11th of the year and second in a week after a hitting a bomb against the Yankees on Aug. 17. For the game, Pedroia was 4-for-6 with five RBIs and three runs scored.
• The Red Sox got their first lead of the series in the first inning. Adrian Gonzalez followed Pedroia’s two-out double – which missed being a home run by about two feet off the centerfield wall – by roping a single to center to score Pedroia.
After going 0-for-9 in the first two games of the series, it was Gonzalez’s first hit against the Angels.
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