Anthony Bemboom pulled up to Fenway Park at 12:45 p.m., a mere 20 minutes before the Angels closed a four-game series Sunday afternoon. He had never worn an Angels jersey in a major league game. Nor had he caught most of the pitchers on the staff.
But the 2012 draft pick of the Angels, recalled from triple-A Salt Lake because of Kevan Smith’s back issues, didn’t let hesitation cloud his mind. He relied on adrenaline, and some five hours of sleep, to carry him into his newest challenge.
The approach served Bemboom well.
In the Angels’ 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in 10 innings, Bemboom drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th, hitting the first pitch into right field for a single that scored Kole Calhoun from third base.
Bemboom hadn’t even swung a bat since learning Saturday night that the Angels, who reacquired him from the Tampa Bay Rays last month, needed him.
“I wasn’t thinking about it too much,” said Bemboom, who made his MLB debut in May and only had five plate appearances before sustaining a knee injury. “It’s one of those things, you take a million swings, you’re thinking about it a lot. Honestly that probably helped me a little bit, to simplify it.”
Bemboom entered the game at catcher in the eighth inning, and was tested immediately. With the score tied 4-4, reliever Cam Bedrosian issued a walk to Mitch Moreland, and the Red Sox lifted the lumbering designated hitter for pinch-runner Mookie Betts. Betts broke for second base on the fifth pitch to Christian Vazquez and Bemboom threw him out by several feet.
The deadlock persisted until Bemboom, who made it to tripleA with the Angels before going to the Colorado Rockies and eventually the Rays, came to the plate in the 10th inning.
“I’m sure he had some adrenaline,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “New club, new team, back in the big leagues. That helps. He made an excellent throw. It’s tough to catch guys you’ve never seen before, especially with the shadows creeping over home plate.”
Before Mike Trout crushed a ball over the 37-foot-tall fence in left field here Saturday, Calhoun liked to tease the Angels star for not having hit a home run at Fenway. Calhoun hadn’t even homered in Boston himself.
Calhoun remedied that in the eighth, sending a 97-mph fastball from Matt Barnes over the Angels bullpen in right-center field. It was his 26th of the season, which tied a career high. The towering solo shot tied the score 4-4 and absolved rookie Patrick Sandoval of a loss.
Sandoval followed up his MLB debut from last week with a gutsy performance, but was charged with four runs over 4 2/3 innings. He struggled at times executing his pitches. In a second-inning sequence, he issued back-to-back walks on eight balls in a row. The latter occurred with the bases loaded and pushed in a run. It cut the Angels lead to 3-1.
Sandoval bounced back and retired five in a row, but he gave up a two-run homer in the fourth to Vazquez and left three runners on base for reliever Ty Buttrey in the fifth. A passed ball by Max Stassi allowed Boston to take a 4-3 lead.
Fortunately for the Angels, who have won two in a row after a season-worst eight-game losing streak, Buttrey pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Bedrosian followed with seven uneventful outs, maneuvering around two walks and a hit. Closer Hansel Robles retired all four batters he faced to secure a series split.
And Bemboom, a 29-year-old who has continued to chase a major league dream despite a number of injuries and team changes, completed the roundabout journey that delayed his Angels debut.
“It’s good to kind of have that light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “You know that you’re working toward something and have that belief you can get back there.”