Closing Time: Albert Pujols' homer in 19th inning dooms Red Sox

Rob Bradford
August 09, 2014 - 11:43 pm
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It came at 3:39 a.m. (ET), with nobody out in the 19th inning. Finally, the Red Sox succumbed. Albert Pujols leadoff homer in the 19th off Brandon Workman gave the Angels a 5-4 win over the Red Sox, ending the Sox' longest game since July 9, 2006. It punctuated a 6-hour, 31-minute game. While the outcome fell short of the Red Sox record of 24 innings -- set on Sept. 4, 1906 -- it was the longest game in the history of Angel Stadium. It was also the most innings played in any Major League game this season. The Pujols blast finalized a roller coaster of a contest. Newly-acquired Heath Hembree got out of a huge jam in the 17th inning after loading the bases with one out. The former Giant induced a shallow fly ball and fielder's choice grounder to send the game to the 18th. The righty allowed just two hits over his four innings. "He was outstanding," said Farrell of Hembree, who is scheduled to be optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket to get another arm for Sunday. "We backed them in a corner with a couple of intentional walks there. He's still able to make the key pitch. We make a good play defensively to prevent a run from scoring with [Yoenis] Cespedes throw. He was very good. Swing and miss with his fastball, didn't feat the strike zone. A very positive first outing." Junichi Tazawa came on in the 14th with the Red Sox having just grabbed a one-run lead. But the reliever would soon be facing Mike Trout with the bases loaded and nobody out. (Farrell later said he was hoping to stay away from using Tazawa, who had pitched in three of the Sox' last four games.) Trout's grounder to shortstop Xander Bogaerts resulted in a force at second base, with Dustin Pedroia's throw home not in time to prevent thee game-tying score. "Yeah, I mean, it's tough to play infield in. If they hit a chopper, we lose," Pedroia explained. "Winning run's on second. But yeah, I told Bogey before, if he smokes a ball, try to give it to me out in front of the base so we could try to get that out at home because Trout runs so good. Iannetta just got a great jump." Tazawa managed to escape with the score tied, striking out Josh Hamilton, stranding runners on second and third. It was Pedroia's efforts earlier in the 14th inning appeared to be leading to a Red Sox win. After ripping a 14th-inning single, Pedroia stole second, popped up and raced to third after realizing nobody was covering third. (The Angels had forgotten to cover the bag, having been in a shift on David Ortiz.) Ortiz punctuated the effort, lofting a deep fly ball to left field that scored Pedroia with the eventual game-winner. Before the 14th-inning drama, more than an hour earlier it appeared Clay Buchholz would be highlighting the Red Sox' night. Then along came the starter's 115th pitch. With two outs in the eighth inning and the Red Sox leading by a run, Red Sox manager chose to leave in Buchholz to face Mike Trout, who had already notched a pair of hits off the Sox starter. The result was a game-tying, solo home run over the right-center field wall. "If I'd have known we were going to play 19 innings, I promise you I wouldn'€™t have given up a home run to Trout," Buchholz said. "I'd have walked him." Prior to the eighth, Buchholz had actually out-pitched his Los Angeles counterpart, Angels' ace Garrett Richards. For six innings, Richards was cruising through a no-hitter against a seemingly lifeless Red Sox team. Then there was what happened after that sixth inning. The Red Sox exploded for three runs in the seventh against the Angels' starter, who was coming off a complete game shutout of the Dodgers. It all started when Richards' no-hitter was broken up by Dustin Pedroia, who singled up the middle leading off the seventh. Up until that point, the Angels' starter had struck out five and walked two over six innings. The Pedroia hit opened the flood gates for the Red Sox and completely changed the game's narrative. Ortiz immediately followed with an RBI double, which led to Yoenis Cespedes single. The Sox then proceeded to tie things up when Angels shortstop Erick Aybar (whose wife had kindly delivered homemade food to the Sox' clubhouse before the game), booted a Mike Napoli grounder, allowing Ortiz to come in with the game-tying run. Los Angeles continued to boot the ball around a batter later, with second baseman Howie Kendrick booting a sure double play ball off the bat of Daniel Nava, loading the bases with nobody out. That led to Xander Bogaerts' sacrifice fly, giving the Red Sox their out-of-nowhere lead. Despite's Trout's eighth-inning homer, perhaps the best news of the night for the Red Sox was the performance of Buchholz, who settled down after a shaky first inning to match Richards' early excellence. The Angels jumped on Buchholz with two runs in the first, with Los Angeles claiming three straight hits to start the home half of the inning. Kole Calhoun led off with a double, and was followed by Trout's single. After a wild pitch, Albert Pujols ripped a double just out of the reach of center fielder Brock Holt for the early two-run lead. Buchholz would go on to retire his next 11 batters before Howie Kendrick's two-out walk in the fourth inning. It wasn't until Trout's sixth-inning single that the Sox righty allowed another hit. The performance was far and away the best for Buchholz sine his complete game shutout against Houston just before the All-Star break. Since that outing against the Astros he had allowed  23 runs on 31 hits and 13 walks over 22 innings (four starts), for a 9.00 ERA. His two most recent outings saw Buchholz give up seven runs in five innings each time. There was, of course, yet another spectacular catch by defensive replacement Jackie Bradley Jr. This time it was a running grab on a liner to right-center field off the bat of Erick Aybar in the ninth inning. The Red Sox got out of a major jam in the 10th inning when Craig Breslow induced a foul pop-up off the bat of Josh Hamilton with runners on second and third, ending the frame. Hamilton moved  to 0 for his last 21 after the at-bat. Also of note was Christian Vazquez catching 18 innings, tying his career-high longest game (accomplished with Double-A Portland). "I'll be all right," he said. "I'm young."