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Sunday, October 11, 2009

ALDS Game 3 Angels @ Red Sox: Angels 7, Red Sox 6

Bottom 2nd: Home plate umpire Eric Cooper is calling a very tall strike zone; a lot of low pitches that, from my view, ought to be called strikes are getting labeled balls.

After hammering a towering moon shot foul inside the left field line, Kevin Youkilis goes down looking on a Scott Kazmir bender that gets Youk jawing with the umpire (again!). A walk to Jason Bay gives the Sox their first baserunner of the game, but both David Ortiz and Mike Lowell fly out to end the inning.

Top 3rd: So, Dave Henderson threw out the first pitch, huh?

After Chone Figgins bounces out to second, Bobby Abreu lines out to Jacoby Ellsbury in center; Ellsbury makes a fine leaping, outstretched catch to make the play.

Bottom 3rd: Kazmir's playing a dangerous game, giving up his second walk of the day, this time to Alex Gonzalez with one out. Ellsbury smacks a line drive single to left over the head of the drawn-in Chone Figgins. There's men on first and second for Dustin Pedroia now. Pedroia hammers a 1-1 pitch into the Green Monster for an RBI double, giving the Sox a 2-0 lead as the throw comes in late to the plate.

Victor Martinez one-hands an offspeed pitch into the Monster; while Rivera gets it back quickly and holds Martinez to a single, it also cashes in the speedy Pedroia for a 3-0 Red Sox lead. Those hard line drive outs were a bad omen, and we're now starting to see Boston straighten out some of those pitches.

Youkilis lines out to left and Bay lines out to Torii Hunter to end the frame, but Kazmir may not survive much longer if he doesn't start getting some balls hit on the ground.

Top 4th: Vlad is still batting fourth? Seriously, Scioscia, how much do you want to win this game?

Vlad taps out meekly to short to start off the fourth. That bit of managerial ineptitude immediately costs the Angels, as Kendry Morales crushes a high fastball into the right field seats to nibble the Sox' advantage down to 3-1. That's it from the Angels, as both Rivera (5-3 groundout) and Izturis (pop out to short) go down quickly.

Bottom 4th: The Green Monster eats a one-out home run for Mike Lowell, who belts a pitch high onto the ediface that Rivera hurries back to the infield for a mere single. Kazmir continues to flirt with disaster, not helped by Eric Cooper calling almost nothing low in the zone. J.D. Drew then crushes a pitch over the fence in dead center that bounces back to the seats, but Cowboy Joe West immediately throws up the home run signal, and it's 5-1 Boston. Welcome to Fenway.

Kazmir finally gets Ellsbury on a broken bat bouncer to the box for the inning's final out, but the game is in danger of becoming a rout. Jason Bulger was last seen warming up in the Angels bullpen.

Top 5th: Cooper's calling a terrible and inconsistent strike zone; nonetheless, Mike Napoli belts a 3-2 pitch down the left field line that caroms off the outfield padding and takes a funny turn past Jason Bay. Napoli gets a stand-up double as Bay has to unexpectedly change direction to field the ball.

Erick Aybar takes an inside pitch (according to the TBS strike zone box) for a called strike three. This is the worst umpiring crew of the four out there this postseason.

Figgins goes down the same way, albeit that pitch — a bender inside — looks like it's an actual strike.

Bottom 5th: Kazmir, shockingly enough, is still in the game. Even more shocking: he gets the side in order.

Top 6th: Torii Hunter whams a leadoff double; Buchholz tries to pick him off second, and after grimacing on his return to the plate, Buchholz tries again, only this time he balks him to third. Vlad hits an infield single to short, and Hunter stays at third after Lowell comes over to back up the play. That brings up Kendry, and necessitates a meeting on the mound.

K-Mo takes an intentional unintentional walk on four pitches, and that's it for Buchholz, who leaves the bases loaded with nobody out. Daniel Bard, he of the 98 MPH heat, is coming up.

Bard gets out of it by getting Rivera to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play and Maicer Izturis to pop out. One run scores, but it could have been far worse, and the Angels will face the teeth of the Red Sox' excellent bullpen. 5-2 Red Sox.

Bottom 6th: Kazmir gives up a two-out walk to Lowell, but he posts another scoreless inning as he gets Drew to bounce out harmlessly to Kendry for the final out. Kaz has settled down from his bad innings in the third and fourth, but he's also probably faced his last batters, as he's at 90 pitches.

Top 7th: After two straight outs to start the inning, Chone Figgins comes to the plate and gets a strike called on a very borderline check swing call. Okay, I'll come out and say it: Dan Iassogna is full of bologna.

Figgins goes down on a 0-2 bender on the outside corner to end the frame. Looks like we're going to a game 4, at least. Still six outs left, though.

Top 8th: After Jason Bulger unexpectedly gets out of the seventh with a zero frame, Bobby Abreu hits one down the right field line, and Kevin Youkilis' attempt to field the ball merely swats it into the stands for a two-base infield hit; it goes down as a "double to first" in the record book. Torii Hunter makes a bunt attempt and gets all upset when he pulls the bat back late and first base umpire calls him out on it. He really has something to be upset about as he strikes out looking.

Vlad somehow works a walk after a protracted at-bat. Kendry swings hard at the first pitch, one up at his eyes. Morales taps to second on a tough play that ends up a 4-3 ground out, but that brings in Papelbon with the Angels' best home run threat out, and Boston four outs away from their first series win.

Shockingly, Juan Rivera, who has been mostly ineffective, spanks a first-pitch fastball into the gap to cash in two, narrowing the lead to 5-4 Boston. The Red Sox outfield played it well to limit Rivera to a single; he's lifted for pinch-runner Reggie Willits. Willits, taking an aggressive lead, gets picked off first to end the frame. Gad, he can be a dunce.

Top 9th: Following a one-run inning by the Sawx in the bottom of the frame that pushed their advantage to two runs (6-4 Boston), chasing Kevin Jepsen, the Angels somehow managed to reverse the deficit against the Sox against their ace closer, Jonathan Papelbon, the big blow coming on Vlad's RBI single. Vlad? VLAD?

As Helen says, he gets to keep hitting fourth.

Erick Aybar singled off Billy Wagner, Chone Figgins walked (his 2009 skill coming through again), and Bobby Abreu doubled, cashing in Aybar. Figgins could have gone home, but Dino Ebel held him at third; it was an odd call from the Angels' third base coach, because the throw to the infield had no target, and he likely would have scored.

As it turned out, that didn't matter, thanks to Vlad's single, but we'll see how this turns out with the Angels' shaky bullpen.

And yes, Papelbon gives up his first postseason runs. Which feels pretty damn good right now, even if Fuentes chokes up this lead for a loss.

Hideki Okajima replaces Papelbon, and gets Kendry Morales to make a routine fly out to left.

Bottom 9th: Jed Lowry pinch hits for Gonzalez and pops out to center, a play Hunter has to race in to make. One out.

Ellsbury pops out to defensive replacement Jeff Mathis. Two out.

Fuentes gets a gift called strike on the 0-1 pitch on Pedroia, misses the plate with the next one, and gets a popout to short.

Break out the champagne, boys, I didn't think you had it in you. And beating Papelbon, at Fenway to boot! The runs he gave up were the first in the postseason ever.

Postgame: Torii Hunter: "The fat lady hasn't sung yet."

Francona: "It's tough to walk the bases loaded. ... We thought we put ourselves in a better place to win."

Papelbon: very subdued, as you would expect, but gracious, talking about how his location was off.

ESPN BoxAngels recap

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I think the curse is over. Funny that Henderson beats us in 86 and then he comes out today to throw out the first pitch and we have an amazing rally in the 9th.
Yup. There was something mean-spirited about that. I'm glad they lost.
If only today was October 12th, then we'd be 23 years to the DAY on this. Hendu throws that first pitch and WE end up coming back in the ninth with two outs to win by a 7-6 score... That's right: 7-6. Ring familiar? BEAUTIFUL... Now THAT feels damned good.
Well I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the Henderson thing was in poor taste, especially considering Donnie Moore later committed suicide in part because of that fateful pitch.
"Top 4th: Vlad is still batting fourth? Seriously, Scioscia, how much do you want to win this game? "

Funny how things work out sometimes.
I know.
You might want to fix the score in the heading. (It was never Angels 6, Red Sox 5, at any point. That's OK: somewhere in the 9th, just after the pitching change maybe, TBS had it first as Red Sox 7, Angels 6, then Red Sox 7, Angels 7, before they finally got it right.)
Heh! You betcha, Seitz.
berkowit28 - I saw that score too - I hoped that some Boston fan would have just switched over while it said 7-6 to the Sox, and then them discover the real score - hur-hur-hur-hur!
@berkowit28 -- fixed.
I am quite happy for Vlad. It's been sad to witness his physical decline in recent months/years, so it was great to see him get the biggest hit of his career. Fangraphs awarded him a robust WPA of .633. And he had a strangely (i.e., drawing a walk, etc.) effective game on Friday, too.
Sorry for the consecutive posts, but am I the only one who got annoyed with the TBS announcers repeatedly describing the ump's strike zone as "consistent?" I didn't see anything "consistent" about it at all. I thought it was pretty erratic.

And boy that Abreu signing just keeps on looking better and better.
Chris -- totally agreed, especially at the bottom of the zone. Anything close was essentially a dice roll.
And, yeah, can we keep Abreu on as a hitting coach once he retires?

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