July 16, 2004

Angels 8, Red Sox 1. I missed the first three innings of last night's game, so I didn't see Derek Lowe get himself into and then out of various types of trouble. Lowe threw 95 pitches in the first 4 innings and in each of those frames, Anaheim left 2 men on base.

Lowe began the 4th by getting Vladimir Guerrero to tap back to the mound (1st pitch). Jose Guillen poked a seeing-eye single past both Lowe and Mark Bellhorn into right center. Darrin Erstad doubled to the left center, giving the Angels a 2-1 lead. At that point, Alan Embree got up in the bullpen.

Should the pen have been up early? That's a tough call. Clearly, Francona hoped Lowe could complete the 5th -- that seems like the least a starter can do. And Lowe had been pitching out of trouble. He rebounded to get Jeff DaVanon looking for the second out. Benji Molina took a strike before singling to left field. Kevin Millar (whose piss-poor fielding "skills" led to the Angels' first run an inning earlier) made a weak throw home and Anaheim had a 3-1 lead. At that point, Francona went to the pen.

It seems logical to me. And I was pleased that he called on Embree. It was only the 5th inning, but this was the time to bring in one of the better arms to keep the game close. There were plenty of times earlier this year when Francona would bring in one of the rag arms, with predictable results. Unfortunately, Embree didn't get the job done. After Adam Kennedy singled, David Eckstein doubled and Chone Figgins singled, Boston trailed 6-1.

Some fans bitched about another slow hook from Tito, but (with the caveat that I did not see Lowe's entire start) I didn't see it that way. If there was any slow hook, it was on Embree. The entire bullpen was rested because of the All-Star break and should have been used. Anaheim tacked on a couple more runs in the 6th and won easily. ... I was wondering when the Red Sox batters would start mailing it in, hacking away with no plan, looking like they want nothing more than to get the game over with. I'd say they started in the 7th, when Anaheim was ahead 8-1. Nomar Garciaparra began that inning by popping up the first pitch (surprise!) foul to first base.
One final nit: Mark Bellhorn singled to start the 9th. With lefty David Ortiz batting, the Angeles were not holding him on. But Ortiz saw four pitches (he flew out to left) and Manny Ramirez saw 3 (he also flew out to left) and Bellhorn made NO move towards second. If part of the rationale for taking second in that situation is to stay out of the double play, why wait until there is two outs before taking the base? ... Just another example of stupid baseball from the Red Sox.
Pedro/Escobar at 10:05 pm.

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