As the Angels made their way from the clubhouse and into the dugout before Thursday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, a cardboard box awaited them atop the bat racks. The box contained what appeared to be the results of a shopping spree at Party City.
This would be the first game of the last series David Ortiz would play in Anaheim. The Angels had the obligatory farewell gift, a portrait of Ortiz at bat, to be unveiled on the field by Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and longtime coach Alfredo Griffin.
But the Angels wanted to have some fun too. So they asked each player to wear the gag gifts, a pair of goofy sunglasses and a gold-colored chain, to spoof the Ortiz look.
The game itself ended up stunningly merry for the home team. After David Price shut out the Angels for eight innings, the Angels won in the ninth, 2-1, on a walk-off throwing error by Boston Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez.
Trout and Pujols started the ninth with singles, putting the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on base. After Carlos Perez struck out trying to bunt, Andrelton Simmons delivered a line single to center field, but hit so hard that Trout was held at third.
Daniel Nava, pinch-hitting, knocked a ground ball directly to Ramirez, who threw home.
“I think it would have been a bang-bang play,” Trout said.
But Ramirez threw high and rushed, and over the head of his catcher. Trout scored, and so did pinch-runner Ji-Man Choi, and the Angels had a stunning victory.
Jered Weaver gave up no more than one run for the third time in four starts. His earned-run average this month: 3.57.
The Boston run came in the third inning, on two singles and a sacrifice fly. In the sixth, with two out and a runner on second base, the Angels ordered Weaver to walk Ortiz intentionally. That took him to 104 pitches — two shy of his season high — and out of the game.
When Manager Mike Scioscia called for a reliever and came to the mound, Weaver’s objections were visible to anyone watching on television.
“I’m a competitive person,” Weaver said. “I just wanted to take the ball.”
He and the Angels should not have been losing at that point. The Angels had only themselves to blame, for they bunched three hits and a walk in the fifth inning — without scoring.
With the Red Sox leading, 1-0, Jeffry Marte singled, Jett Bandy walked, and Gregorio Petit was at bat. With two strikes on Petit, the 220-pound Marte decided to try for his first major league stolen base, but he was thrown out at third.
Petit singled, of course, and so did Johnny Giavotella after him, but the slow-footed Bandy had to be held at third. So the Angels left the bases loaded — no runs, three hits, one walk, one ill-fated baserunning gamble.
The Angels got another scoreless inning from reliever Joe Smith, perhaps the player most likely to be traded by Monday’s deadline. In seven appearances since the All-Star break, Smith has not given up a run. He has faced 22 batters, without walking any.
“Joe Smith had the best stuff we’ve seen all year,” Scioscia said.
Walking onto the field with goofy glasses and faux chains was a silly feeling. Walking off was a triumphant one.