Angels Left Out
Mike Scioscia thought he made the right move; it just didn’t work out. Jarrod Washburn felt he made the right pitch; he just didn’t execute it. Chone Figgins thought he made a wise choice on the basepaths; it just backfired on him.
Regrets? The Angels, remarkably, had none Friday, stunning for a team that had just about everything go wrong from the eighth inning on and suffered its last, and most devastating, loss of the season.
Maybe they were still in shock from David Ortiz’s two-out, two-run, walk-off home run in the 10th inning, which came on the first pitch Washburn had thrown in relief in five years and gave the Boston Red Sox a thrilling 8-6 American League division series-clinching victory over the Angels before 35,547 in Fenway Park.
Maybe they were still numb from watching the Red Sox mob Ortiz at home plate, forming a bouncing, hugging, massive ball of humanity in celebration of a three-game sweep that propelled Boston into the AL championship series against either the New York Yankees or Minnesota Twins.
Maybe they were in denial, refusing to believe they came all the way back from a 6-1 deficit, tying the score on a crowd-silencing grand slam by Vladimir Guerrero in the seventh, only to fail to score after loading the bases with one out in the ninth and losing with their closer, Troy Percival, holding the ball in the bullpen in the 10th.
But if there was any second-guessing Friday, it was not going to be done in the Angel clubhouse, where less than a week after clinching the AL West, the Angels were left to conduct a postmortem on a gut-wrenching finale to a series in which they held the lead for all of two-thirds of an inning.
“It hurts, it stinks, but this team never gives up, and we showed that [Friday],” first baseman Darin Erstad said. “We were down, 2-0 and 6-1, on the road, and we fought back and tied it. They got the big hit in the end. It just didn’t work out for us this time.”
That was the theme for the day.
After Brendan Donnelly struck out five of seven batters from the fifth inning through the seventh, and the Angels tied the game in the seventh, Scioscia summoned ace setup man Francisco Rodriguez for the eighth.
The 22-year-old right-hander, who threw 44 pitches in a two-inning stint in Game 2 Wednesday, retired the Sox in the eighth and ninth and started the 10th.
Johnny Damon led off with a single, and Mark Bellhorn bunted into a fielder’s choice, shortstop David Eckstein making a remarkable lunging scoop of Figgins’ one-hop throw to second.
Rodriguez struck out the dangerous Manny Ramirez with his 38th pitch, and with Ortiz, the left-handed cleanup batter who had two doubles and a single, coming up, Scioscia came to the mound.
Rodriguez, who had not thrown more than 2 1/3 innings in his 69 appearances this season, did not ask to come out. But he did not insist on staying in.
“He asked me how I felt -- I told him I was fine, but I was getting tired,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t trying to be a hero. I left everything out there. I gave 200%.”
How much did Rodriguez have left? “To be honest,” he said, “nothing.”
At that point, Scioscia decided to pull Rodriguez.
“He was fatigued, no question,” Scioscia said. “This was the right move, not only for this game, but for his career. There was no way I was going to take a chance with a youngster like that.”
Both Washburn, the starter and loser in Game 1, and Percival were warm, but Scioscia did not want to use Percival for the final out of the 10th and bring him back in the 11th because the closer hadn’t pitched more than one inning all season.
So in came the left-handed Washburn, the starter-turned-reliever, from a bullpen that had survived -- and thrived -- without a left-handed specialist all season.
Washburn tried to get Ortiz to lunge at a first-pitch slider, down and away, but he hung it, and Ortiz ripped an opposite-field homer over the Green Monster in left for the sudden-death victory.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” Washburn said. “At first, it was disbelief. Then, as time went by, I got more upset. It was the right pitch. I just didn’t execute it.”
The Angels had a chance to break the 6-6 tie in the ninth, but a mistake by Figgins might have cost them a run -- and the game. With one out, Figgins singled to left off closer Keith Foulke, and with Figgins running on a 3-and-1 count, Erstad lashed a double off the wall in left-center.
Figgins, thinking Ramirez might make a running catch, stopped at second as the ball caromed low off the wall. Figgins took third and stopped there, reminiscent of the mistake St. Louis’ Lonnie Smith made against Minnesota in the 1991 World Series.
After intentionally walking Guerrero to load the bases, Foulke struck out Garret Anderson swinging, and Troy Glaus, who hit a long solo homer in the fourth, couldn’t check his swing on a third-strike changeup, as the Red Sox escaped the jam.
“I haven’t played here enough to know that ball was going to go off the wall,” said Figgins, who seemed shaky on defense and uncertain at the plate all series. “I didn’t want him to catch it and get doubled off with the big boys coming up. The ball was not that high. I thought he had a chance to catch it.”
If it had been any other park?
“Then I score easily,” Figgins said.
The Angels were at least able to walk out of Fenway knowing they had a pulse.
Erstad, after falling behind, 0-and-2, drew a bases-loaded walk off reliever Mike Timlin to force in a run in the seventh and Guerrero hit an opposite-field grand slam to make it 6-6.
No team had blown a bigger lead at home in the playoffs leading up to the World Series, and as Guerrero’s slam soared over the Verizon Wireless sign in front of the Red Sox bullpen, it was as if the entire Angel team was saying: “Can you hear me now?”
But it was the Red Sox and Ortiz who had the final word, crushing Angel hopes with his clutch home run.
“I’m proud of the way this team hung in there -- we could have folded in the last two weeks,” Percival said. “We just ran out of gas at the end, and we ran into a team that was steam-rolling.”
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PLAY BY PLAY
* ANGELS: Chone Figgins flies out to left field. Darin Erstad grounds out to second base. Vladimir Guerrero flies out to left field. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 left
* RED SOX: Johnny Damon walks. Mark Bellhorn strikes out swinging. Johnny Damon steals second base. Manny Ramirez singles to center, Damon to third. David Ortiz strikes out swinging. Trot Nixon strikes out swinging. 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 left
* ANGELS: Garret Anderson singles to center. Troy Glaus called out on strikes. Jeff DaVanon strikes out swinging. Bengie Molina called out on strikes. 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 left
* RED SOX: Kevin Millar walks. Jason Varitek called out on strikes. Orlando Cabrera pops out to third. Bill Mueller singles to center, Millar to second. Damon lines out to third. 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 left
* ANGELS: Dallas McPherson strikes out swinging. David Eckstein flies out to right. Figgins hit by pitch. Erstad grounds out to second, off pitcher Bronson Arroyo. 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 left
* RED SOX: Bellhorn walks. Ramirez flies out to center. Ortiz doubles to left, Bellhorn to third. Nixon singles to right, Bellhorn scores, Ortiz to third. Millar grounds out to second, Ortiz scores, Nixon to second. Varitek is walked intentionally. Cabrera lines out softly to second. 2 runs, 2 hits, 2 left
* ANGELS: Guerrero pops out to third. Anderson pops out to third. Glaus homers to left. DaVanon grounds out to first. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 left
* RED SOX: Mueller reaches on fielding error by second baseman Figgins. Damon singles to left, Mueller to second. Bellhorn walks, loading the bases. Ramirez hits a sacrifice fly to left, Mueller scores. Pitcher Change: Scot Shields replaces Kelvim Escobar. Ortiz doubles to right, Damon scores, Bellhorn to third. Nixon is intentionally walked. Millar reaches on force attempt, fielding error by shortstop Eckstein, Bellhorn scores. Varitek grounds into a 6-4-3. double play. 3 runs, 2 hits, 2 errors, 2 left
* ANGELS: Molina strikes out swinging. McPherson grounds out to the catcher. Eckstein called out on strikes. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 left
* RED SOX: Cabrera grounds out to first. Mueller singles to right. Damon singles to right, Mueller to second. Bellhorn strikes out swinging. Ramirez singles to right, Mueller scores, Damon to third. Pitcher change: Brendan Donnelly replaces Shields. Ortiz called out on strikes. 1 run, 3 hits, 2 left
* ANGELS: Figgins lines out to left. Erstad walks. Guerrero strikes out swinging. Anderson singles to shortstop, Erstad to second. Glaus grounds into a 6-4 force out. 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 left
* RED SOX: Nixon lines out to left. Millar called out on strikes. Varitek strikes out swinging. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 left
* ANGELS: Defensive substitution: Doug Mientkiewicz replaces first baseman Millar, batting sixth. DaVanon walks. Casey Kotchman pinch hits for Molina. Pitcher change: Mike Myers replaces Bronson Arroyo. Jose Molina, batting for Kotchman, walks, DaVanon to second. Adam Riggs pinch hits for McPherson. Pitcher change: Mike Timlin replaces Myers. Curtis Pride, pinch-hitting for Riggs, pops out to shortstop. Eckstein singles to right, loading the bases. Figgins strikes out swinging. Erstad walks, DaVanon scores. Guerrero hits a grand slam to right. Jose Molina scores. Eckstein scores. Erstad scores. Pitcher change: Alan Embree replaces Timlin. Anderson grounds out to second. 5 runs, 2 hits, 0 left
* RED SOX: Figgins moves from second to third. Jose Molina catching, Amezaga at second. Cabrera strikes out swinging. Mueller pops out to first. Damon strikes out swinging. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 left
* ANGELS: Glaus flies out to center. DaVanon walks. Pitcher change: Keith Foulke replaces Embree. Molina flies out to center. Amezaga strikes out swinging. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 left
* RED SOX: Pitcher change: Francisco Rodriguez replaces Donnelly. Bellhorn called out on strikes. Ramirez strikes out swinging. Ortiz singles to second. Nixon walks, Ortiz to second. Mientkiewicz grounds into a 4-6 force out. 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 left
* ANGELS: Eckstein flies out to left. Figgins singles to left. Erstad doubles to left, Figgins to third. Guerrero is intentionally walked. Anderson strikes out swinging. Glaus strikes out swinging. 0 runs, 2 hits, 3 left
* RED SOX: Varitek grounds out to first. Cabrera grounds out to third. Mueller flies out to left. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 left
* ANGELS: Pitcher change: Derek Lowe replaces Foulke. DaVanon flies out to center. Molina walks. Amezaga sacrifices Molina to second. Eckstein singles to shortstop, Molina to third. Figgins grounds out to shortstop. 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 left
* RED SOX: Damon singles to center. Bellhorn bunts into a force out, third to short. Pokey Reese pinch runs for Bellhorn. Ramirez called out on strikes. Pitcher change: Jarrod Washburn replaces Rodriguez. Ortiz homers to left, Reese scores. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 left