Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels
Three Things we learned from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
1) The Red Sox have to figure out to handle Steven Wright in the rain.
Recall that back in May, Wright had easily his worst start of the season when he pitched in a steady downpour, unable to properly grip the knuckleball that he throws for about 70 percent of his pitches.
The rain haunted Wright again Friday night. He had blanked the Angels for the first five innings, but in the sixth, the rain intensified and Wright struggled with his command, allowing a double, hitting a batter and walking another.
Pitching coach Carl Willis visited the mound and told Wright to keep throwing the knuckler, and that Matt Barnes was warming and would be available for the hitter after C.J. Cron. The Sox, Willis reminded Wright, would be OK with a bases-loaded walk for one run. Later, catcher Christian Vazquez sent the same message.
But then Wright let his competitive instincts take over and tried to get a fastball past Cron, who launched it into the Monster Seats for a grand slam.
"It's one of those things that I'm going to have to figure out,'' admitted Wright. "I don't know how to figure it out. That's what I've been struggling with. It's kind of my nemesis. When the rain comes, it's like 'Oh my God, here it comes again.'''
As it is, Wright said he'll be kicking himself for the "next four days on that one pitch.''
Rain will come again with Wright on the mound. The Red Sox would do well to have a better attack plan next time.
2) The Red Sox caught a massive break on fan interference.
Last month, the Red Sox thought they were cheated out of a home run when a fan reached out from the Monster Seats and caught a ball hit by Xander Bogaerts.
Friday night, they got some payback.
With Mike Trout on first, Daniel Nava hit a ball that bounced up and skimmed along the top of the low wall in right field. A fan then grabbed the ball, with Trout held at third on the ground rule double.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued that the Angels were the victim of fan interference and that umpires should have the discretion of allowing Trout to score. But replay officials said the original call stood.
In the Red Sox clubhouse, the Red Sox seemed to understand that they have been the beneficiaries of a blown call.
“We played with 26 players tonight,'' said a beaming David Ortiz of the fan who helped the Sox out in the right field box seats. "I was like, 'Yes!'''
3) Sometimes, those boring PFP drills in spring training really pay off.
Throughout February and March, the Red Sox - like many other teams – have their pitchers going through pitcher's fielding practice and bunt drills, trying to anticipate the kind of play that Koji Uehara faced Friday night.
With a runner on third in a one-run game, the Angels elected to try a squeeze bunt to score the tying run. But when catcher Carlos Perez bunted, Uehara sprinted toward the plate to field the ball with his oversized glove, and with one fluid motion, directed the ball from his glove to catcher Christian Vazquez, who caught the ball and applied the tag to Johnny Giavotella.
"Key play,'' said John Farrell. "That's something you do repeatedly for 45-plus days (in spring training) and it showed up to be a pivotal play.''
Two years ago, Uehara made a similar play in Baltimore to snuff out a rally by the Orioles. As he was leaving the visitor's clubhouse to go do his nightly post-game weight-lifting, he stopped by the coach's room and shouted to get their attention.
"Hey - No PFP tomorrow!'' he explained in perfect English, cracking up the coaches in the process.