In a lost season for the Boston Red Sox, it took 19 innings and a blast off the bat of Albert Pujols to power the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the Sox 5-4 in a game that extended into the early hours of Sunday morning. It ended up being the longest game ever played at Angel stadium. The Red Sox are obviously playing the role of spoilers as this 2014 season winds down, so the way they competed in coming back from a 2-0 deficit and eventually blowing two leads is encouraging in the fact that they have players who are still giving their all.
Unfortunately, the 19th-inning walkoff homer by Pujols gave Brandon Workman (1-6), the Sox ninth pitcher of the game, his second loss in three games. The game was started by Clay Buchholz and Angels pitcher Garrett Richards. Buchholz gave up two runs early, but settled down and actually had a strong performance. At one point in the game he retired 11 consecutive batters, which was a sign of encouragement for Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Farrell said after the game, "I thought tonight was probably (Buccholz') best outing of the year, even when you consider his start down in Houston. he was outstanding. He had a good curveball in fastball counts to slow some hitters down. Three distinct pitches for strikes. He was very much like the Clay Buccholz we know."
Despite the strong outing for Buccholz, it looked as though the two runs he gave up was going to be enough for Richards, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The Red Sox came back to take the lead with three runs started by a single off the bat of Dustin Pedroia that broke up the no-hit bid. Aggressive baserunning and some shoddy defense from the Angels eventually turned a dominate outing by Richards into a 3-2 deficit for the Angels.
After the Angels tied the game 3-3 to force extra innings, Pedroia give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead in the 14th with more strong baserunning. The Red Sox second baseman stole second base and continued to third when he realized the Angels' shifted infield wasn't covering. Pedroia said following the game, "I knew it was a possibility. Usually, either the catcher or the pitcher head over. I popped up and I peaked over and no one was there, so I took the chance on it."
The Angels again tied the game in the bottom of the 14th to extend the game. With a strong pitching performance by right-handed reliever Heath Hembree, who made his Red Sox debut, the Sox were able to hold even for five more innings before eventually losing the game. The pitcher, who was acquired in the trade for Jake Peavy, threw 62 pitches in four scoreless innings. It was a performance that Farrell described as "outstanding" and another sign of encouragement for a team aiming its focus towards the 2015 season.
Although it was a tough loss for the Red Sox, the team showed fight and even displayed a little bit of clutch hitting. If they continue to play this way for the remainder of the season, the Boston Red Sox are going to give some contending teams fits and may actually play a role in the postseason hopes of some teams.