Angels edge Red Sox after benches are cleared
At the beginning of this three-game series, the Boston Red Sox lined up on opposite foul lines with the Los Angeles Angels in solidarity as the grieving home team observed a moment of silence in honor of rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart.
The mood in Sunday's finale was in sharp contrast. The teams who met in three of the last five AL Division Series put the good will aside after an angry reaction from Bobby Abreu to a pitch by Boston ace Josh Beckett that sailed over his head triggered a bench-clearing incident.
Abreu later hit a go-ahead two-run single against Beckett, and Vladimir Guerrero hit his first home run of the season to help Dustin Moseley and the Angels beat the Red Sox 5-4.
"I've never hit anybody in the head, and it's not really on my list of stuff to accomplish. But people can think what they want to think," Beckett said. "I know Bobby Abreu. He knows I'm not trying to hit him in the head. Obviously, there's been a lot of emotion in this series with them - not only facing us, but obviously the tragedy that all of them went through."
The Angels won Friday's series opener, their first game after the 22-year-old Adenhart was killed early Thursday along with two friends when the car they were in was broadsided by a van driven by a suspected drunken driver.
Only hours before, Adenhart pitched six scoreless innings against Oakland.
In the first inning Sunday, Beckett was in the stretch position for what seemed like an eternity while getting the sign he wanted from catcher Jason Varitek. He came toward the plate with a fastball just as plate umpire Paul Schreiber jumped out to call time.
"He took too long delivering the ball, so Abreu called time - which is normal," second base umpire and crew chief Joe West said. "Did he throw it up and in? Yeah. Do we believe he threw it at Abreu? No. Would we have warned him had both benches not emptied? Probably not. But because both benches emptied, we did issue a warning."
Abreu said something to Beckett and was held back by Schreiber, then both dugouts and bullpens emptied - but no punches were thrown.
"It's just baseball. Stuff happens," Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "It was just one of those things that got out of control, and some people just flipped their lid. But nothing happened, and that's how it usually turns out - just guys yelling and screaming."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia ordered his players and coaches back to the dugout, but remained on the field discussing the situation with West before Beckett walked toward Scioscia and engaged in some heated words.
"Usually the pitcher will show a little bit of remorse and say that wasn't a part of it. But obviously, we didn't see any of that with Beckett," Scioscia said. "That was as blatant as anything I've seen in this game. What happened today absolutely crossed the line, and I think it was inexcusable. I really feel the league has to look at it."
The benches and bullpens spilled onto the diamond again while Scioscia jawed with Beckett. This time, there was some pushing and shoving. Angels center fielder Torii Hunter was ejected by West and had to be restrained by teammate Howie Kendrick. Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher and reliever Justin Speier also were ejected.
"I've got a gag order - from Howie Kendrick," Hunter joked after reporters approached him. "I should have dealt with my actions a lot better. You saw me holding a lot of guys back. And then just some words that were said that were just outrageous, you know? And it wasn't from the Red Sox. And I just lost it."
When play resumed, Abreu grounded out and Beckett retired Guerrero.
Youkilis led off the Boston second, and the count was 1-2 when Scioscia yelled something from the dugout and was ejected by third base umpire Ed Rapuano. Scioscia came back on the field to argue with Rapuano and West, and after play resumed, Youkilis and J.D. Drew hit back-to-back home runs - the first of the season for both of them.
Moseley (1-0) was charged with three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, striking out three.
One of the runs against Moseley was unearned, the result of a throwing error to second base by catcher Mike Napoli on the back end of a double steal. Dustin Pedroia scored on the miscue, trimming Los Angeles' lead to 4-3, but Guerrero got that run back in the eighth with a towering drive to left field against reliever Hideki Okajima.
Angels setup man Scot Shields walked three batters in the eighth but escaped the jam when Mike Lowell fouled out to third and Varitek flied to center on the next pitch. Brian Fuentes got three outs for his second save, giving up an RBI single to David Ortiz before striking out Drew with runners at first and second.
Beckett (1-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings, striking out five and walking two.
Boston CF Jacoby Ellsbury played his 179th straight regular-season game without an error, breaking Mike Greenwell's franchise record for outfielders. ... Ortiz was thrown out trying to steal second in the fourth. He is 10-for-14 stealing in his career and 6-for-8 with the Red Sox. ... Beckett was charged with a balk, only his hird in 1,201 2-3 innings during his big league career.