Don’t worry, Pawtucket. Your souvenir cups are safe.
The Red Sox and Angels had a ways to go before catching the PawSox’s longest game record — 33 innings against the Rochester Red Wings in 1981 — but Boston and Los Angeles essentially crammed a doubleheader into one lengthy affair Saturday night into Sunday morning. The Angels emerged victorious in the 19th inning — six hours and 31 minutes after the game’s first pitch — when Albert Pujols hit a walk-off home run off Brandon Workman.
Saturday’s game was defined by its length. For some, that might mean sleeping in Sunday morning. For others, it meant more coffee than originally anticipated for the West Coast affair. Perhaps you even decided enough was enough and turned off the TV. Who could blame you?
The showdown at Angel Stadium was eventful, however, and it certainly was a crushing loss for the Red Sox, regardless of its importance — or lack thereof — in the grand scheme of things.
The marathon in Anaheim was one of those where you look up somewhere around the 12th, 13th or 14th inning and think, “Who started this game, again?” It’s a natural reaction, but the efforts of Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz and Angels ace Garrett Richards shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Richards carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, at which point everything came crashing down. In one fell swoop, Richards lost his no-no, his shutout and his lead.
Dustin Pedroia led off the seventh with a single into center field, David Ortiz knocked him in with a double into the left-center field gap and Yoenis Cespedes added to the threat with a base hit into left field. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar and second baseman Howie Kendrick then committed back-to-back errors — resulting in a run — before Xander Bogaerts gave Boston a 3-2 lead with a sacrifice fly. Richards departed.
Buchholz entered Saturday’s start on the heels of two straight stinkers. It initially looked like he’d provide another one, as the Angels began the game with three consecutive hits en route to a 2-0 lead.
Buchholz eventually settled in and lasted eight innings. He allowed just three earned runs on six hits while striking out eight and walking two. Mike Trout’s game-tying home run in the eighth inning prevented Buchholz from potentially earning a win.
Trout’s clutch blast marked the first blown lead for Boston. The Red Sox also relinquished a one-run edge in the bottom of the 14th inning after some aggressive baserunning by Pedroia put them into a position to squeak out a victory.
Pedroia stole two bases on one play in the top of the 14th. He swiped second and then noticed upon popping up that no one was covering third, as the Angels were in a defensive shift with Ortiz batting. Pedroia raced to the next station, paving the way for Ortiz’s go-ahead sacrifice fly.
The Angels loaded the bases against reliever Junichi Tazawa with no outs in the bottom of the 14th. The Halos tied the score on a strange play. Bogaerts fielded a ground ball and flipped to second base for a foreceout before Pedroia fired an ill-advised throw home. The Red Sox’s infield was back at double play depth — conceding the tying run — and Pedroia took a shot, to no avail. All things considered, it’s pretty amazing that Tazawa managed to escape the jam and extend the game.
The game remained knotted up until Pujols led off the bottom of the 19th with a shot to right-center field that just cleared the wall. The umpires even needed to review the play to make sure it cleared the yellow line atop the fence.
Both teams received quality starting pitching, both teams’ bullpens excelled — Heath Hembree tossed four shutout innings in his Red Sox debut and Matt Shoemaker pitched three perfect innings to earn the win — and both teams had chances to win. It was the Angels who delivered the final blow.
There might not be any souvenir cups of Saturday’s game, though it was the longest game in Angel Stadium history. But there most certainly will be some droopy eyes come Sunday’s series finale, especially on the losing side.
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