10/06/07 2:34 AM ET
Angels fall on Ramirez homer in ninth
K-Rod gives up long ball as Halos drop into 0-2 ALDS hole
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"There's some pain there," Vlad added. "Bad luck."The pain afflicting his Angels teammates was of an emotional kind. Manny Ramirez's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning against Francisco Rodriguez lifted the Red Sox to a theatrical 6-3 victory in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday night at Fenway Park. Their second series loss, as stunning as these things come, pushed the Angels one defeat away from elimination and an earlier vacation than they'd wanted. With the series shifting to Anaheim, the Angels will try to build some momentum in front of their home fans in Sunday's Game 3 at 12:07 p.m. PT. Young Jered Weaver will take the ball for manager Mike Scioscia's troupe, with time-tested Curt Schilling on the mound for Boston. "We can't lose any more games," catcher Mike Napoli said. "We have to win three in a row -- simple as that." Rodriguez handled his appointment with defeat calmly, professionally. He said he didn't see the location of his fastball to Ramirez, his delivery taking him out of view, but he didn't need his eyes to recognize disaster. His ears very quickly relayed that information. "I heard the sound," K-Rod said. "I knew what that meant." Game over. Even though he didn't see the finish, Rodriguez knew he didn't put the ball where he wanted it. "If it had been in a good location, a good pitch, he wouldn't have hit it like that," K-Rod said. He'd struck out Kevin Youkilis with a wicked curveball for the second out, with Julio Lugo, having singled off Justin Speier leading off the inning, on second. Lugo had advanced on Dustin Pedroia's infield out, Scioscia making the move to K-Rod. After Youkilis went down swinging, David Ortiz was walked intentionally for the second time, his fourth walk of the game -- an ALDS record. "You really pick your poison," Scioscia said. "It just made sense not to go after David ... and it didn't work tonight." Falling behind 1-0 to Ramirez, Rodriguez tried to hit Napoli's target on the outside corner near the hitter's knees, but he brought it up into Manny's wheelhouse. And the Red Sox slugger crushed it so far over the Green Monster, it could have disrupted somebody's dinner party.
"We were trying to go down and away to get a strike," Napoli said. "But he elevated it a little bit. You pretty much know it's gone when you hear that [sound off the bat]."Scioscia said he saw some positive signs in his offense, apart from the 2-for-12 it managed with runners in scoring position. "I think one thing about our club, when we get into our game, we can turn it around quickly," Scioscia said, thinking ahead to a resurgence in Anaheim, where the Angels had the best home record in the Majors (54-27). A gallant effort by Kelvim Escobar and solid work by Scot Shields and Speier from the sixth through the eighth innings kept the Angels in Game 2. The offense, frustrated by Boston's bullpen behind starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, had been unable to push across runs in a succession of opportunities after a three-run second inning had given Escobar a one-run lead. "They have a good lineup, and you definitely don't want to pitch to those two guys [Ortiz and Ramirez] with a game on the line," Escobar said. "I felt great tonight, and the team made a great effort. I left my heart out there, did my best to keep the team in the game. "They've got a great team, but it's not over. We are going home, and we still have a chance to win this series." The Red Sox went to their closer, Jonathan Papelbon, with two outs in the eighth inning. An error by third baseman Mike Lowell, a walk by pinch-hitter Juan Rivera and three steals -- two by Howard Kendrick and one by pinch-runner Reggie Willits -- had runners in scoring position with two outs. But Papelbon caught Chone Figgins looking at a third strike to end the threat. "I didn't think it was a strike," Figgins said, "but I didn't get the call. What can you say? That's baseball." With Guerrero in right field, making his first start there since an inflamed right triceps limited him to DH duty on Sept. 6, the Angels had Kendry Morales in the DH spot, and it paid dividends in the three-run third. The Angels uncharacteristically played Moneyball in the early going against Matsuzaka. They didn't score in the first, but they worked counts and got two runners aboard on Orlando Cabrera's walk and Garret Anderson's single before Maicer Izturis took a 3-2 curveball for strike three on Dice-K's 31st delivery. The Red Sox, who play this style of game from March into October, ran Escobar's pitch count to 30 in the bottom of the first, taking a 2-0 lead on J.D. Drew's two-out single to center. Youkilis walked, advancing on Ortiz's single and Lowell's walk. Drew cashed them in with his timely single. "I felt so good," Escobar said, "I was overthrowing a little. But after I got through that first inning, I felt great." In the second, Casey Kotchman fell behind 0-2 before coaxing a leadoff walk that set a three-run second inning in motion.
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Kotchman took third when Morales' grounder got past second baseman Pedroia. After Kendrick struck out, plate discipline again paid off, this time by catcher Jeff Mathis.When Mathis didn't bite on a 2-2 cutter, the count was full when he bounced to Lowell at third. This meant Morales was running, and all Lowell could do was get the out at first, Kotchman scoring. One pitch after the crowd cheered in celebration of the Indians' win over the hated Yankees, Figgins quieted the Fenway partisans when he sent a fastball toward the left-field corner, his double, misplayed by Ramirez, bringing home Morales. Figgins strolled home when Cabrera launched a one-hopper off the Green Monster in left-center. When they sent Matsuzaka to the showers with two outs in the fifth, it was only the second time in his debut season he didn't make it through the fifth inning. Southpaw Javier Lopez got Morales to ground into a force to leave runners at the corners, Izturis having singled in front of another Kotchman walk that ended Dice-K's night. Pedroia's leadoff double past third put Escobar, clinging to his one-run lead, in trouble in the fifth. An intentional walk to Ortiz and a full-count walk to Ramirez loaded the bases with one out. Lowell sent a sacrifice fly to center for the tying run, and Escobar won a 10-pitch duel with Drew by inducing a grounder to Kotchman at first. Escobar had needed 101 pitches to get through his five innings, turning this into a confrontation of bullpens. Boston's four-man relief corps held the Angels hitless for 4 1/3 scoreless innings, and that was the difference when Ramirez ended it with one breathtaking swing.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.