ANAHEIM -- Erick Aybar sprayed the ball into the right-field corner to open the bottom of the eighth inning on Thursday night and the Red Sox appeared to be in big trouble.
As Aybar motored around second base, Dustin Pedroia hauled in J.D. Drew's relay throw in short right field. All Pedroia did was make a perfect peg to third to nail Aybar.
Instead of a leadoff triple, the Red Sox had a leadoff out. The game was tied at the time, and Boston went on to beat the Angels, 4-2, in 11 innings.
As far as Red Sox manager Terry Francona was concerned, it was typical Pedroia.
"Pedey just wills himself," Francona said. "I've said this about [Derek] Jeter. They want him to have something to do with the outcome of the game. That's how we feel about Pedey. Whether it's offensively, defensively, he's a great player. But you see the best of him when the game is close and on the line."
To Pedroia, the throw was a payoff to the monotony of Spring Training.
"That's why in Spring Training, I don't screw around with that," Pedroia said. "I always try to get my legs underneath me. I don't ever go 50 percent in those drills. It's going to come down to three or four games a year that if we make a good throw, we win. Tonight was one of those games, so practice pays off."
The Red Sox were just happy to have Pedroia in the game during crunch time. In the top of the third, Pedroia jammed his left foot while stealing third. That wouldn't be such a big deal if it wasn't the same foot he fractured last June.
After a visit from the trainers, Pedroia was able to stay in the game.
"I'm all right," Pedroia said. "I just landed awkwardly. It was nice that [Francona and trainer Mike Reinold] came out there and gave me a minute to get feeling back in my foot, so it was good."
Did Pedroia fear the worst?
"Not really," Pedroia said. "The worst has already happened. I've already broken my foot. I don't play scared. To be honest with you, it was just kind of a stinger. My leg, kind of, I don't even know what it was. It took a couple of minutes to get the feeling back in there. Once that half inning was over, I felt fine. I just landed weird."
X-rays negative after Youkilis fouls ball off shin
ANAHEIM -- The Red Sox will take soreness over bone breaks. In other words, there was a sigh of relief when X-rays taken on the left shin of third baseman Kevin Youkilis came back negative.
Youkilis fouled a ball off his left shin in the top of the first inning on Thursday night and exited the game in the bottom of the second.
"He's sore," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona after Boston's 4-2 victory over the Angels in 11 innings. "He was X-rayed and they were negative, which is good. He'll be re-evaluated tomorrow. He's pretty sore."
After sustaining the injury, Youkilis finished that at-bat, grounding into a 6-3 double play.
Jed Lowrie moved from shortstop to third base, and Marco Scutaro entered the game at short and took over the cleanup spot for Youkilis.
Varitek gets consecutive starts for first time
ANAHEIM -- For the second day in a row, Jason Varitek was in Boston manager Terry Francona's lineup. That marked the first time this season the captain has started consecutive games.
Francona said his main reasoning was that Varitek could catch Josh Beckett (Thursday night's starter) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Saturday's starter) this weekend. Jarrod Saltalamacchia will start on Friday and Sunday, catching Jon Lester and John Lackey.
While Saltalamacchia went into the season as the team's primary catcher, he has had some difficulties during the early stages of the season.
"Well, what I wanted to do this weekend, I wanted to catch them both twice," Francona said. "If I would have gone just one after the other, I kind of would have had them backwards. Tek's done such a good job with Beckett. If they're both going to catch two, I'd rather go ahead and do it this way. It gives Tek Dice-K and Beckett, guys that that he's done a pretty good job with."
Though the club's first 17 games, the Red Sox were 2-9 in games started by Saltalamacchia and 4-2 with Varitek. The team's ERA with Saltalamacchia is 7.14. Entering Thursday's game, it was 2.50 with Varitek.
Are Varitek and Saltalamacchia now in a job-sharing situation?
"This weekend," Francona said. "They're going to catch two each this weekend."
In other words, stay tuned.
Red Sox activate Albers, option Aceves
ANAHEIM -- The Red Sox welcomed Matt Albers back to their bullpen, activating the righty from the 15-day disabled list prior to Thursday night's contest against the Angels. To make room for Albers, Alfredo Aceves was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Albers was placed on the disabled list on April 8 with a right lat strain. After two rehab outings for Pawtucket, in which he allowed one hit over three innings and struck out two, he was declared ready to return.
Before going on the DL, Albers looked sharp in his first two outings for Boston, firing two hitless and scoreless innings while striking out three. He was the final player to make the team in Spring Training.
"I'm definitely excited to get back and feel healthy and feel ready," Albers said. "It was definitely tough. I never like to be on the DL. To miss out this early was unfortunate, but I feel fine now. It actually went pretty quick for me so that was nice."
Aceves, 29, was summoned from Pawtucket to take Albers' spot. The righty held his own, posting a 2.25 ERA with five strikeouts in six games.
The demotion had little to do with the way Aceves pitched. Instead, the Red Sox actually need him to get stretched out at Triple-A as a starter.
"We're going send him down to start just to make sure of our starting depth," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We've seen that in the past where we've run into problems, and we don't want it to happen. We've tried to assure him that we really like him, but it's a tough message for them to hear when they're going down. I told him, I said, 'Look at the way we used you. But you're the guy with the option. That's the way it is.' But we also want him to be stretched out a little more."
Red Sox cautiously optimistic on Kalish injury
ANAHEIM -- Highly touted Red Sox prospect Ryan Kalish was taken to a hospital on Thursday after injuring his left shoulder on a diving catch for Triple-A Pawtucket. At least initially, there was hope that the injury isn't major.
"I know he dove. He jammed his shoulder," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I know originally they had him in a sling. [He] felt pretty good. But I don't think [we have] anything official. I know probably as much as you guys do. I think that the good news is, I think he just hurt it. I think he just jammed it. But we'll certainly know more [soon]."
Kalish spent the final two months of 2010 with the Red Sox, hitting .252 with four homers and 24 RBIs. He could get a chance to play every day in Boston next year, depending on what type of moves general manager Theo Epstein makes between now and then.
Syracuse's Michael Aubrey hit a sinking line drive to center field to lead off the second inning, and Kalish dived to his left to make the play, but he rolled over his left shoulder and walked off the field with a PawSox trainer holding his arm.
Pawtucket's vice president of public relations, Bill Wanless, said that Kalish's arm was put in a sling after receiving X-rays for what the team described as a "jammed shoulder." Kalish has not yet been placed on the disabled list.
"We'll see," PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler told the Providence Journal in reference to Kalish's status after the game. "It didn't look real serious, but you never know. It was sore. It was hurting."
Francona favors talk of playoff expansion
ANAHEIM -- While Commissioner Bud Selig continues to work toward increasing the number of postseason participants from eight to 10 in time for 2012, Red Sox manager Terry Francona is on record as being in favor of that adjustment.
"Good. I think that's great," Francona said when apprised of Selig's comments on Thursday. "I wish we were hockey. I don't like hockey, but the more teams, the better. I can't see how it wouldn't be [good for the game]. It gives a lot of fans reason to stay with their teams."
If the 10-team format had been in place last season, the Red Sox, even with their barrage of injuries, would have qualified for postseason.