Emotions boil over in Angels-Red Sox game

It's been a difficult and emotional week for the Angels.

One day they're opening a promising new season beneath flags and fireworks. Then three days later they're mourning a popular teammate, killed in a traffic crash.

So it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise that their emotions got the best of them Sunday, when Manager Mike Scioscia, one of his coaches and two players were ejected less than two innings into a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Only in this case the raw nerves had nothing to do with Nick Adenhart's death.

"Don't use Nick, man," pleaded an angry Torii Hunter, one of the players ejected. "Yeah, we had a tragic week. And a rough week. But . . . that was blatant.

"What happened right there, you saw it."

What the Angels, the Red Sox and the 38,076 spectators at Angel Stadium saw was Boston pitcher Josh Beckett uncork a fastball in the general direction of slugger Bobby Abreu's head.

After time had been called. After Abreu began backing out of the batter's box.

"It was about this close," Abreu said, holding a hand about six inches from his nose. "If I wasn't paying attention, I would have gotten hit in my head. It wasn't right."

His manager and teammates apparently agreed. Because when Abreu, arms at his side, called out to Beckett and the pitcher responded by marching menacingly toward the plate, the Angels' dugout and bullpen emptied.

"I was beside myself," said reliever Justin Speier, who was also ejected along with hitting coach Mickey Hatcher in the first-inning fracas. "Here's a guy who obviously made a big mistake and threw at Abreu's head. And then he has the gall to charge Abreu and start talking smack? And then start talking smack to our manager?

"He made like three mistakes there."

Abreu was behind in the count 1-2 with one out and Chone Figgins on base when Beckett came to the stretch and gave a long look back at second, where Figgins had a careful lead. Too long a look in the eyes of plate umpire Paul Schreiber, who called time out.

Beckett apparently didn't hear him, though, and by the time he looked back at the plate, he was ready to make his pitch.

"I'm already halfway through my delivery," Beckett said. "I'm not going to stop and possibly hurt myself. [The pitch] could have gone anywhere."

But it didn't, the Angels protested. Although catcher Jason Varitek had set up low and away, the pitch sailed high and tight. And afterward Beckett showed no remorse, charging Abreu rather than apologizing to him.

"People can think what they want to think," the right-hander said. "I've yet to hit somebody on the head and it's not on my list of stuff to accomplish."

The Angels disagreed.

"That was as flagrant as anything as I've seen in this game," said Scioscia, who was ejected in the top of the second for continuing to argue from the bench.

"There were some things that happened on that field that were disturbing. The league has to look into it," he added.

"Some words were said that were just outrageous," said Hunter, who rapidly went from peacemaker to protester. "And it wasn't from the Red Sox. I freaking lost it."

Asked if those words were spoken by the umpires since there were only Angels, Red Sox and umpires on the field, Hunter balked.

"I didn't say that," he answered. "It might have been the voices in my head."

When both teams and the umpires eventually got back to playing, the Red Sox jumped to a 2-0 second-inning lead on back-to-back homers by Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew.

An inning later, Abreu got his revenge against Beckett, hitting a two-run single that put the Angels ahead to stay.

It wasn't a comfortable lead, though, especially the deeper Boston got into the Angels' bullpen.

In the eighth Scot Shields walked the bases loaded with one out, missing the strike zone on 14 of his first 20 pitches, before getting Mike Lowell to pop up a 2-0 pitch and retiring Jason Varitek on a line drive to center.

And even after Vladimir Guerrero extended the Angels' lead to 5-3 with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning, closer Brian Fuentes almost gave the game away again in the ninth, hitting the first batter, then surrendering consecutive singles to score one run and put the go-ahead run on base. He then struck out J.D. Drew to end it.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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