Many Red Sox fans probably turned off the TV, rolled over and caught some shuteye before stuff started to hit the fan out in Anaheim. It’s understandable. The Sox owned a four-run lead in the ninth inning, and this is a lengthy West Coast swing. You’ve got to cut corners when you can.
Those who did stay up late, however, witnessed Boston’s most crushing defeat so far this season.
The Red Sox went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a matter of minutes. We might eventually look back at Saturday’s 9-7, 11-inning loss and view it as nothing more than a minor hiccup. But for now, it stings. And the devastating setback will truly test the Red Sox’ resiliency.
The Red Sox have shown an uncanny ability this season to not let shakiness linger. In fact, before heading out West, manager John Farrell lauded the team’s ability to show up to the ballpark each day with the same mindset. Whether they win or lose, this group seems to understand that each game is its own entity, and that game-by-game mentality is big reason why the Red Sox have been consistent all season.
If past experience is any indication, then there’s a good chance that the Red Sox will overcome Saturday’s loss without any issues. But just as they don’t take games for granted, they can’t afford to take their hallmark resiliency for granted.
The Red Sox entered the ninth inning Saturday with a four-run lead, and things started to unravel with Alex Wilson on the mound. Wilson recorded two outs in the inning, but Albert Pujols stepped to the plate representing the tying run after the right-hander plunked Mike Trout to load the bases. That forced Farrell to summon his closer from the bullpen on a night when it looked like he’d be able to avoid using him.
It was a dangerous spot for Koji Uehara, but the Red Sox were one out — and eventually one strike — away from nailing down a victory, and the lead was still at four runs when Uehara entered. Pujols went down to get a two-strike pitch, though, and his two-run single into center field really gave the Angels hope.
The play that will be talked about extensively following Saturday’s game came when Howie Kendrick, batting with the tying run on third base, hit a ground ball to the left side. Brandon Snyder, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Brock Holt in the seventh inning, made the play and looked to record a game-ending forceout at second base. He never got a firm grip on the baseball, though, and his throw sailed over Dustin Pedroia’s head, allowing the tying run to score.
Josh Hamilton, who had been having a difficult series, particularly in the field, eventually sent Angels fans home happy with a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning. But it’s the ninth inning that could haunt the Red Sox, mainly because of everything involved. The bullpen imploded, the defense fell apart and an earlier managerial decision came back to work against them.
The Red Sox have had a few other tough losses this season, but blowing a four-run lead against a team that seemed lifeless going into the ninth inning puts Saturday’s defeat in a category of its own. That might also mean we’ll see the Red Sox’ most resilient effort yet, but they’ll certainly need to dig deep in the series finale.