It took until the 100th game of the season, but David Price and Hanley Ramirez finally looked like themselves Thursday night in Anaheim.
Price finally resembled the ace the Red Sox have been looking for, shutting out the Angels over eight strong innings before handing the ball and a one-run lead over to Brad Ziegler in the ninth. But Ramirez’s glove helped the Angels start and finish a crushing rally, as Boston began their west coast road trip by losing, 2-1, in walk-off fashion.
Hanley Ramirez throws double play ball to Fullerton, Angels win 2-1. pic.twitter.com/5HaDzKGxWR
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) July 29, 2016
Mike Trout led off the ninth with a sharp ground-ball to Travis Shaw, but Trout was safe after Ramirez was unable to dig out the low throw. Albert Pujols followed with a single, and pinch-hitting Carlos Perez failed on three consecutive bunt attempts, before a base hit by Andrelton Simmons loaded the bases with one out for old friend, Daniel Nava.
Ziegler induced a grounder — and potential game-ending double play — to Ramirez, who has been surprisingly adept at first base all season long. But Hanley’s throw sailed over the head of Sandy Leon, allowing two runs to score, sending the Red Sox to their fourth-straight loss.
David Price finally throws a gem of a game and the Red Sox literally throw the game away. pic.twitter.com/VtHsY1dfPj
— Joon Lee (@joonlee) July 29, 2016
In Price’s eight innings of work, the lefty struckout six while surrendering just seven hits — all singles — and one walk. Price exited after throwing 109 pitches.
Speaking of singles, the game featured 18 hits between the two clubs, all of which went for singles.
Jered Weaver, the Angels’ soft-throwing righthander, was able to limit the Sox to just one run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Boston’s lone run came in the third inning, when Mookie Betts scored Leon on a sacrifice fly to left field. Leon led off the inning with a base hit to right field, and took third on an aggressive running play after Brock Holt lined a base hit of his own.
Jackie Bradley Jr. was the only member of the lineup without a hit, although no player on either team — except Pujols — recorded a multi-hit game.
Red Sox announce passing of former 2B Doug Griffin. Famous for surviving beaning from Nolan Ryan, close friend of Yaz and nickname "Dude."
— Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) July 28, 2016
It’s easy to chalk the Red Sox’ performance up as a product of a long day of travel after a grueling home stand, which is why Price’s outing was so refreshing.
Being an ace isn’t about just posting gaudy statistics and routinely exhibiting overwhelming stuff, two things Price has done on rare occasion this season anyway. True rotation anchors are able to stop the bleeding, and win games like this on their own, while providing much needed rest to a beleaguered bullpen.
A victory Thursday night could’ve gone a long way towards helping the Red Sox regain some much needed momentum, but instead they fell to 55-45 on the season, with a brutal schedule awaiting them over the next few weeks.
Depending on how you prefer your half-glass, the Orioles’ third-straight loss Thursday night meant the Red Sox didn’t slip any further in the standings, but it also represented another missed opportunity. Boston is currently 2.5 games back of Baltimore for first place in the AL East, and 1.5 games behind Toronto for second place.
The Red Sox will look to get back in the win column Friday night when they send Rick Porcello to the mound opposite the Angels’ Tim Lincecum.
Back-to-back 9th inning losses for the Red Sox. Their season-high 4th straight loss and 6th in 7 games. Still 2.5 back in the AL East. But.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) July 29, 2016
Price — He’s been deserving of all the criticism he’s received throughout his awful first season with the Sox, but Price also deserves credit for stepping up and pitching well on Thursday. He was able to limit the hard contact that’s plagued him all season, and was able put away batters in big situations. Price’s record stayed at 9-7, as he lowered his ERA to a still-disappointing 4.26.
— Obnoxious Boston Fan (@realOBF) July 29, 2016
Leon — As expected, Leon has come back to earth over the last week. The Sox don’t need him to be Carlton Fisk, they just need him to be solid behind the plate and occasionally productive with the bat. Leon was almost solely responsible for the team’s only run, and also caught Jefry Marte attempting to steal third base in the fifth inning with the Angels threatening to tie the game.
You expect Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, etc., to go first-to-third on singles to RF. When Sandy Leon does it, that's exceptional baserunning.
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) July 29, 2016
Ziegler — Overall, Ziegler has been a godsend for the Boston Bullpen, despite his failures in his last two appearances. It was Ziegler’s first blown save with the Red Sox, although he’s converted his only other opportunity. Still, the Angels made a lot of solid contact against him in the ninth, showing why he’s still best suited for a middle-relief or setup role.
Brad Ziegler had 9 straight scoreless appearances vs LAA entering tonight. The @Angels scored 2 runs in the 9th to win.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 29, 2016
KEEP AN EYE ON
Perhaps inexplicably, closer Craig Kimbrel could return to the club as soon as Monday. Kimbrel has had his own issues in late-game situations this year, but this bullpen really can’t get him back fast enough.
Craig Kimbrel will rehab with the PawSox Saturday as long as he feels good tomorrow. Hope is he will only need one game there.
— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) July 27, 2016
Upon his return, it will be interesting to see how the remaining pieces fit into the bullpen. If Kimbrel’s return does come on Monday, it will come on the same day as the non-waiver trade deadline, which means someone (we’re looking at you, Buchholz) will likely be left without a role, or a roster spot entirely.