Red Sox 10, Angels 1
When the Angels still had a chance to win, both produced and the Boston Red Sox beat Los Angeles 10-1 on Friday night.
The light-hitting Mirabelli homered and drove in two runs and closer Papelbon struck out Vladimir Guerrero on a 97 mph fastball with two runners on in the eighth before Boston scored six runs in the bottom of the inning.
The score was just 4-1 with one out in the eighth when manager Terry Francona decided to bring Papelbon in instead of waiting for the ninth.
“We don’t want to have one of the premier weapons not in the game when the game is in the balance,” Francona said.
Guerrero, one of the best hitters in the game, was the potential tying run when he swung at and missed the first pitch then fouled two more off before striking out. Then Garret Anderson lined out to left. Papelbon threw six pitches, all for strikes.
“Pap obviously showed the reason why he’s our closer again,” starter Tim Wakefield said.
Papelbon had 35 saves and an 0.92 ERA as a rookie last season but was switched to the rotation in spring training. About 10 days before the season began, he returned to his closer’s role. So far this season, he has three saves and has retired all 10 batters he faced, six on strikeouts.
Mirabelli’s career has been much less distinguished. Known for his ability to catch Wakefield’s knuckler, he plays once every five days and admitted that “I felt lost at the plate a lot” last season.
But on Friday, he tied the game 1-1 with a leadoff homer in the fifth off John Lackey (2-1), then made it 3-1 with an RBI single in the sixth.
“When a guy who’s not playing every day gives you an offensive punch like that, it gives your whole team a lift,” Francona said.
David Ortiz and Mike Lowell added two-run doubles in the eighth and drove in three runs each as the Red Sox finally gave Wakefield (1-1) some support. And some attention—considering he’s part of a high-profile rotation led by Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
“It’s easy to overlook him when you have a staff like they do,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Wakefield allowed one run in seven innings in his second solid outing of the season. He was excellent in his other start this season but lost 2-0 on April 6 when the Red Sox managed only three hits against Texas, wasting his six-inning effort in which he gave up one earned run and three hits.
Last year, the Red Sox scored only six runs while he was in the game during his 11 losses.
“I can’t do anything about it,” Wakefield said. “I have my job to do.”
The outlook wasn’t much brighter on Friday, when he allowed one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings. In their previous game, Boston lost 3-0 on a one-hitter by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. The Red Sox entered Friday’s game with a .238 batting average.
“I thought we did a pretty good job early,” Scioscia said. “We hit some balls to the deepest part of the park.”
The Angels led 1-0 on Guerrero’s RBI single in the fourth but fell behind 2-1 in the fifth on Mirabelli’s homer and Ortiz’s RBI single.
Mirabelli had returned to Boston from San Diego early last season after catcher Josh Bard had 10 passed balls in Wakefield’s first four starts. Rather than wait for Bard to improve, the Red Sox reunited Wakefield with Mirabelli, who had caught him for much of the previous four seasons.
“He’s so valuable to me,” Wakefield said. “Tonight, he won the game for us.”
The Angels are 1-4 since starting the season 5-1. … Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia broke an 0-for-14 slump with a single in the sixth. … Lackey allowed three runs on nine hits in 5 2-3 innings after giving up just one earned run in his other 12 innings this year. … Boston’s J.D. Drew singled in the fourth and has hit in all nine games. … Red Sox 3B Lowell, who had six errors all last season, committed his fourth with a wild throw in the eighth.