Two weeks ago, Parker Bridwell and Doug Fister sat in a triple-A clubhouse in Salt Lake City, both property of the Bees’ parent club, the Angels. Eight years Fister’s junior and markedly less experienced, Bridwell posed pitching questions and received useful answers.
“Next thing you know,” Bridwell said, “we’re starting against each other on the big league level.”
Both men knew an MLB job was on the line, and the Angels last week picked Bridwell over Fister to start their Sunday series finale in Boston, not knowing they would see Fister anyway. They released him, and the Red Sox picked up Fister off waivers and started him.
For the day, the Angels’ decision proved correct. Bridwell beat Fister and the Angels beat the Red Sox 4-2 at Fenway Park.
The Angels (40-39) are surviving without Mike Trout and without sustained success. They have not won three consecutive games in more than a month. Monday at Dodger Stadium, they will play to reset that fact.
Making his first major league start of the season, the 33-year-old Fister threw harder than he has in years. He also could not evade the Angels’ bats. Kole Calhoun fouled off five of his pitches before punching a flyout to center in the first inning. Up next, Albert Pujols hit Fister’s next pitch out of the stadium — foul. On the third pitch of his at-bat, Pujols, too, flied out.
Andrelton Simmons knocked the Angels’ first hit in the second inning, and Ben Revere singled him to third. When a review showed Danny Espinosa had beaten out a subsequent double-play ball by a millisecond, the Angels had their first run. They had two more after Kaleb Cowart doubled and Juan Graterol singled.
Fister finished his day with those three runs surrendered in six-plus innings, after Boston’s bullpen bailed him out when he let on the two men he faced in the seventh.
Against Bridwell, the Red Sox notched two solo shots, from Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr., and five scattered singles. They had only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position all afternoon, hampered by two superb defensive plays from Cowart and Calhoun.
“Pitching in Fenway isn’t just some ballpark,” Bridwell said. “There were some nerves there, which I expected.”
In jogged Blake Parker, who struck out pinch-hitter Sam Travis to end the threat. The night before, he had struck out another Red Sox substitute in a similar situation to end the game.
Right-hander Yusmeiro Petit handled Sunday’s eighth without issue. Vaunted closer Craig Kimbrel had not pitched in a week, so he entered for the ninth. Revere led off with a single and scampered home for an insurance run on a blooping broken-bat single from Cowart.
Revere’s season, spent playing part time, has been awful. Playing part time, only one hitter in the sport has been worse than him by advanced metrics, and he carried a .221 on-base percentage into Sunday. His three hits represented a revelation.
“This game, it sucks. It really, really does,” Revere said. “You line out four times and your average goes down. And then sometimes you get a broken-bat base hit. Definitely frustrating, but you just gotta keep at it.”
Nobody warmed in the Angels’ bullpen during the top half of the ninth. Scioscia had already told Petit he’d remain in for a second inning, attempting the third save of his career.
He succeeded in reaching the same marker Parker did on Saturday. Both men are 32. Both are journeymen who joined the Angels in 2017. Both are the stalwarts of the club’s improbably successful bullpen, devoid of established relievers, devoid of established roles.
“I took it for the bullpen,” Petit said. “I like the bullpen because everybody knows their role. Their role is anybody can have any role.”