Fenway not too inviting for struggling Angels pitchers
Four hours before the opening pitch Tuesday, teammates John Lamb and Akeel Morris emerged from the visitors dugout to behold the wonder of a sun-bathed Fenway Park.
“Seeing it in person for the first time, it’s almost like a playground,” Morris would explain later. “Everything is perfect. I think every baseball player absolutely wants to see this place in person.”
The charm of the old ball cathedral, particularly for Lamb, soured quickly. Very quickly. As in first-fastball-of-the-game quickly.
The left-hander surrendered an opening-pitch homer and retired only five Boston batters before his night was suddenly over in another ugly Angels’ defeat, 9-1.
“When it snowballs, it gets frustrating,” Lamb said. “Night like tonight is a frustrating night to be out there on the bump, especially when you lose a ballgame.”
His first pitch was so fateful that it resulted in more than just the ball disappearing beyond the right-field wall. One of his teammates disappeared as well.
Rookie Michael Hermosillo, playing his first game at Fenway Park, flipped over the short fence in a failed pursuit of Mookie Betts’ 20th home run of the season.
“In my head I thought, ‘I’m either going to jump at it or go over this wall,’ ” Hermosillo said. “I knew it was short out here. Once I jumped, I tried to do my best to save myself.”
He tumbled expertly, clinging to the wall as he landed on both feet in the Boston bullpen. Hermosillo collected himself and then hopped back onto the playing field.
It was the lone graceful moment for the Angels, who are 0-4 against the Red Sox this season. And the difference between the teams is even more lopsided than that.
The combined score of those four games: 36-4.
“We haven’t solved them,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “They’ve taken it to us. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. We gotta do a lot of things better.”
After that jarring start -- Lamb called it “just a nice welcome to Fenway ballpark, I guess” -- his night went to pieces in a bottom of the second the Angels as a whole would prefer to forget.
Four hits, two walks -- one intentional -- and an Ian Kinsler error on a ground ball that could have been a double play all conspired to allow the Red Sox to bat around and circle the Angels for four runs, only two of which were earned.
“We cracked the door open a little bit, but John just had trouble making pitches,” Scioscia said. “Those guys, they hit the ball hard.”
For a team coming off a shutout loss, a team that had dropped three straight, a team hitting .192 in its previous four games, an instant 5-0 deficit must have looked like a challenge akin to climbing this stadium’s Green Monster.
The Angels finished with four singles and a solo homer from the .176-hitting Chris Young. Every starter except Andrelton Simmons and David Fletcher struck out at least once. For the second consecutive game, they had four 1-2-3 innings.
At this pace, the Angels offense would have to rally to be upgraded to lifeless.
In the first two games of this trip, the Angels have scored just once and had only four at-bats with runners in scoring position. Naturally, they’re hitless in those four at-bats.
By the time the night was over, so was their hold on third place in the American League West. At 41-39, they fell a game behind Oakland and into fourth.
This is the first time the Angels have been no more than two games over .500 since April 3, six games into the season.
So what’s left? Just this: The Red Sox’s final run Tuesday? It was allowed by Morris.
Welcome to Fenway ballpark, indeed.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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