Final, Angels Win 5-3: Well, the Red Sox drop another winnable game on Tuesday, as Aaron Cook gets lit up again, but nor can the offense scratch across much against a vulnerable starting pitcher in Ervin Santana.
With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 59-64, their playoff hopes just about done, while the Angels improve to 63-60 and hope to use this game as a jumping off point to make a postseason run.
Cook (3-7) takes the loss and is probably in danger of losing his spot in the rotation, while Santana (7-10) picks up the win, with Ernesto Frieri notching his 15th save.
Well, that’s it for us from your Red Sox Live Blog. Stick with us here at NESN.com for all your postgame needs, or you can tune into NESN for Red Sox Final and NESN Daily.
Mid 9th, Angels 5-3: The Red Sox desperately need two runs, and they’ll have to do it with Podsednik, Ciriaco and Pedroia coming to the plate. However, that’s a lot of speed on the bases should any of them get on, so let’s see if the Red Sox can manufacture something in the absence of the big hit.
And Boston will be trying to break through against Ernesto Frieri, who’s had a very interesting season. He began the year as a sixth and seventh inning guy for the Padres, but was traded to the Angels early in the year and put up some absurd stats for a while, throwing 26 1/3 scoreless innings to begin his career in Los Angeles. Since that point, the Colombian right-hander has yielded a 6.55 ERA in 11 innings.
End 8th, Angels 5-3: Well, the Red Sox get the tying runs on base but fail to score. That means Boston is down to its final three outs in the game and faces dropping the first of a three-game set with the Angels.
Likewise, Kevin Jepsen is another example of an Angels reliever with a very live arm but not the results to back it up. As with Walden, the name of the game is command, and when Jepsen is commanding his slider he can be dominant. When he isn’t, it’s very easy to sit on the fastball.
Mid 8th, Angels 5-3: A couple nice plays by Aviles in that last half inning, showing off both his glove and his throwing strength.
Aside from that, credit the job the bullpen has done since the removal of Cook coming into the fifth innings. With the Angels relief corp, no lead is really safe, so Vicente Padilla and Mortensen did well to keep the Red Sox in the game.
End 7th, Angels 5-3: Well, the Red Sox inch a little bit closer there and, more importantly, they’re into the Angels’ bullpen now, which is huge.
It’s largely been Los Angeles’ starting rotation that has let it down in August, but the bullpen has been a mixed bag all year. Basically, there are lots and lots of live arms and power pitchers in the Angels’ ‘pen, but few have the command to put up good numbers.
As you saw with Jordan Walden in that last half inning, a 98 mile per hour fastball doesn’t mean much if you throw it right down the middle of the plate and don’t have consistent offspeed stuff.
Bottom 7th, Angels 5-2: For those interested, here is the video of that home run by Trumbo — in Southern California, they’re known as “Trumbombs.”
Again, there have been few hitters in the history of the game with as much pure power as the Angels’ first baseman and outfielder. The ball just flies off his bat.
Mid 7th, Angels 5-2: Clayton Mortensen does well to get through the inning quickly there, but this live blogger would like to take an opportunity to share a personal anecdote about Kendrys Morales.
Back during the summer of 2005 I was working as the official scorekeeper for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Single-A affiliate of the Angels. During the offseason Morales had signed with Los Angeles as a free agent upon defecting from Cuba and arriving in the Dominican Republic.
The problem was that after arriving in the Dominican, Morales had trouble getting a work visa, delaying his debut with the Angels organization by several months, missing spring training and a good chunk of the season.
Well, when Morales finally did get his visa, he came to the U.S., was immediately assigned to Rancho, and within three days had hopped from the Dominican Republic to Florida to Southern California. Before Morales’ first game there was about as much media as you’ll ever see for a High-A contest.
So, what did Morales do in his first at-bat, facing live pitching for the first time in over a year and playing in America for the first time ever? Well, he hit a towering home run (granted, not quite as “towering” as Trumbo’s blast last inning) off the right field scoreboard.
Still one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen on a baseball field.
End 6th, Angels 5-2: Well, if there’s one thing about Santana, it’s that he gives up a lot of home runs. A lot of home runs.
In fact, that’s the 29th on the season that Santana is yielded in just about 140 innings of work — not a good ratio at all.
So, if you’re looking for a way that the Red Sox can climb back in this open, well, there you go, as the Sox certainly have plenty of players in their lineup capable of hitting it out of the yard with authority.
Mid 6th, Angels 5-0: Before the game we heard a little Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros over the public address system here at Fenway.
It’s a band this live blogger is pretty familiar with, having interviewed the band for a feature years ago. For those not familiar, the dozen-or-so strong ensemble has a distinctly hippie aesthetic that makes their tours feel more like a commune than a band.
End 5th, Angels 5-0: So, it looks like Aaron Cook’s night is over, and the struggles for the right-hander keep pouring on.
There was originally some question as to whether or not Cook would even make this start, but the Red Sox’ decision to put Felix Doubront on the disabled list pretty much forced their hand. Basically, the sinker has been inconsistent, Cook’s had trouble keeping the ball down and he doesn’t have good enough stuff to miss bats when he misses location.
Cook has now yielded at least five runs in five of his last six starts.
Mid 5th, Angels 5-0: That may not have been so much fun for Red Sox fans, but, like Trout, Trumbo is the kind of player that has some tools which make him just fun to watch — specifically, his power.
If you saw Trumbo in the Home Run Derby in Kansas City you saw a pretty good example of just the kind of power he has.
And, this live blogger has never seen a player where the ball comes off the bat quite so hard as Trumbo. Even his first-inning single up the middle was absolutely scorched.
End 4th, Angels 3-0: So, Fred Lynn is in the house.
Lynn has close connections to both of these teams in tonight’s game, as the former third baseman played for the Red Sox for the first seven seasons of his big league career, moving over to the Angels for four before finishing his career with Baltimore, Detroit and San Diego.
By the end of this season, Lynn’s name might also be permanently intertwined with Trout as well, as Lynn won both the Rookie of the Year award as well as the MVP in 1975.
Mid 4th, Angels 3-0: Chances are, when Cook talks about this inning after the game, he’ll say that he’s actually not all that displeased with it. True to his game, Cook kept the ball on the ground in that inning, they just kept finding holes to hit them through, and the Red Sox find themselves down early 3-0.
Aside from that, we’ll just point out that Trout is already 2-for-3 with a run scored — precipitated by the threat of his lightning speed.
End 3rd, Angels 1-0: That’s the kind of situation where you’d really like to see Gonzalez come through and even the game, if not give Boston the lead.
With a pitcher who’s struggled as much as Santana, you’d like to make him work, throw pitches and see if you can shake his command. Let the right-hander get into a groove, and anything’s possible.
Mid 3rd, Angels 1-0: Much like in his last start — when he threw a ball into center field trying to turn a double play — Cook isn’t doing himself any favors Tuesday. That may be an unearned run, but the fault for that one lies entirely with the pitcher.
Then again, you now see what kind of effect Trout can have on a game without doing anything too flashy. Just the threat of his speed forced Cook to pay close attention to him at first base, drawing the veteran’s second throwing error in two contests.
Then, if you leave RBI opportunities for Albert Pujols, he’s going to convert on them, and that’s exactly what happened.
End 2nd, 0-0: So, among other parallels between the Red Sox and Angels is the situation with the pitching coaches.
Obviously, Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure was fired on Monday, but looking across the field, the Angels’ Mike Butcher is facing the heat, as well, being that he’s also at the helm of a grossly underachieving starting rotation.
Like the Red Sox, part of that may be beyond Butcher’s control as the health of Dan Haren, such as with Josh Beckett, has been under question all year. Nonetheless, Butcher had to answer questions about the safety of his job on Tuesday.
Mid 2nd, 0-0 : Throughout this series we may well talk about Mike Trout. A lot.
The 21-year-old rookie is pretty special, putting up some numbers that really only compare to the game’s all-time greats. Trout’s actually a pretty similar player to Ellsbury, but the tools are half a step above across the board.
Anyway, want an idea about just how special Trout is? Check out the Tweek below.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 21, 2012
End 1st, 0-0: Ervin Santana, like Cook, has been scuffling largely in 2012, despite coming off seven innings of one-run ball in his last start.
Like Cook, Santana’s game isn’t too complicated, though he’s definitely not a sinker baller. In fact, he tends to be a fly ball pitcher.
Santana will work off his fastball to try and set up his other pitches — mostly a slider and a changeup. The problem is, the right-hander never really developed either of those as a strikeout pitch, and as Santana has lost a little velocity and movement he’s become less effective. He’s also fought his command quite a bit this year.
So, like Cook, look for Santana to keep the ball down and avoid the longball — he’s yielded 28 in 136 1/3 innings this season.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Well, there’s something you don’t see very often, as Cook strike out Trout to begin the game. That’s a bit of an aberration because, for one, Cook doesn’t strike out many batters, being an extreme contact pitcher. Beyond that, for all his power, Trout doesn’t strike out much, and, considering his speed, that’s a real boon for his game, and one of the reasons he’s leading the league in hitting.
So, what to look for from Cook tonight isn’t too complicated. He’ll try to keep the sinker down and induce ground balls. If he elevates his pitches, however, you’re going to see more of what Pujols just did, as the $242 million dollar man just missed hitting his 29th home run on the year.
7:12 p.m.: We have first pitch! And, for those wondering, the gametime temperature is 77 degrees with 41 percent humidity and winds from the southwest at six miles per hour.
6:45 p.m.: With Carl Crawford officially having been shut down for the season to undergo Tommy John surgery (which will reportedly be performed tomorrow) the Red Sox lineup looks a little bit different coming into Tuesday.
Specifically, Jacoby Ellsbury gets a different look, being placed in the middle of the order and the No. 3 hole. That means Pedro Ciriaco leads off and plays third base, while Dustin Pedroia returns to his familiar No. 2 slot.
As for the Angels, it’s pretty much business as usual, and that one through five of Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo looks really, really dangerous.
Check out the lineups for both teams, below.
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Cody Ross, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Daniel Nava, DH
Mike Aviles, SS
Scott Podsednik, LF
Aaron Cook, RHP
Mike Trout, CF
Torii Hunter, RF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Mark Trumbo, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Erik Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C
Ervin Santana, RHP
6:15 p.m.: There are a lot of parallels between the Angels and Red Sox these days, and, mostly, they aren’t good. Let’s try and list them. In fact, they’re almost exclusively reflective of underachieving teams.
– The early struggles of their power-hitting first basemen, who have since rebounded with a vengeance.
– Ace pitchers who haven’t lived up to their billing. For the Red Sox that’s Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. For the Angels that’s Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana.
– Lots and lots of large, long-term contracts that will make it difficult for both teams to change their basic formula in the near future.
Nonetheless, the reason the Angels sit in a much, much better position to make a playoff run is that there are more bright spots, namely Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver and, of course, Mike Trout. The Red Sox have had a couple nice stories of their own, but even those — we’re looking towards Will Middlebrooks — have turned out to be bittersweet.
8 a.m. ET: After all those times the Boston Red Sox (59-63) faced the Los Angeles Angels (62-60) in the playoffs during the ’00s, it’s pretty surprising that Tuesday marks the first matchup between the two opposite-coast powers in 2012. And, for the Red Sox, that means they get their first look at uber-phenom Mike Trout.
The 21-year-old rookie center fielder has been nothing short of a revelation for the Angels. Basically, it’s nearly impossible not to talk in terms of hyperbole about a player who’s already being compared to everyone from Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle to Rickey Henderson, but Trout has lived up to all the talk, leading the American League in batting average and stolen bases while showing far more power than was expected at his tender age. And, oh yeah, he also made one of the best catches you’ll ever see on a baseball field.
But, all that being said, there are a lot of parallels between the Angels and Red Sox as they enter play in the latter stages of August. After enduring a 6-14 start to the season, Los Angeles got hot during May through July, but in August they have won only five of their past 18 games, dealing their playoff hopes a huge blow.
There’s also a similar culprit to each team’s underachieving: underperforming ace pitchers. While Jered Weaver has pitched like a Cy Young candidate in 2012, suffice to say the Angels have not gotten the performances they expected out of C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren or Ervin Santana (6-10, 5.59), who will be making the start Tuesday. Zack Grienke also hasn’t been as good as advertised since the Angels plucked him from Milwaukee at the non-waiver trading deadling, as the right-hander has gone 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in five starts with the Halos.
That’s certainly something the Red Sox can relate to, as their twin aces, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, have been mostly disappointing all season, with each carrying an ERA over 5.00.
So, to counter Santana, the Red Sox will send sinkerballer Aaron Cook (3-6, 4.58) to the mound. He’s had something of a bipolar season for the Red Sox. For example, his last time on the hill, the veteran threw five no-hit innings before yielding five runs in a disastrous sixth inning against the Orioles.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., and we’ll have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say, “all the stats and stories” in the hours before the game here in our Red Sox live blog. Of course, you can also tune into NESN beginning at 6 p.m. for all your pregame needs.
Additionally, you can follow and tweet at this live blogger at @ZachStoloff — who will be reporting and blogging live from Fenway on Tuesday — to chat Red Sox and all things MLB.