Matt Shoemaker’s run as the Angels’ unexpected ace tumbled to an unceremonious end Sunday afternoon, just as the Angels’ improbable stay atop Boston and the baseball world did the same.
A day after rattling the Red Sox for 21 runs, the Angels were routed, 10-5, at Fenway Park. Shoemaker, the 29-year-old right-hander who has forced front offices across the sport to watch attentively, was never as sharp as he had been for six weeks running. His functional fastball-splitter combination betrayed him.
“Those guys were a little more patient,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He had to work a little more for outs.”
Initially, it worked. The first pitch he threw was a down-the-middle fastball to Mookie Betts, taken for a strike. The first pitch he threw to Dustin Pedroia, Boston’s next hitter, was a hanging slider whacked down the left-field line, foul. He fell behind, 3-0, to David Ortizafter Xander Bogaerts doubled, but battled back to 3-2 and fired a sharp splitter to induce an out.
Shoemaker stranded all of the baserunners he permitted over the next three innings, five in all. In the fifth, he gave up a one-out single to Betts, then gathered a groundout from Pedroia and was one more out from escaping another inning unscathed.
Instead, he walked Bogaerts and, on a first-pitch splitter, yielded a crushed double to Ortiz. Hanley Ramirez followed with a double, and the Red Sox had three runs. Pitching coach Charles Nagy visited the mound. Jackie Bradley Jr. singled, scoring a fourth. Scioscia visited the mound. Jose Alvarez entered the game and walked Brock Holt. Two more men notched hits before Scioscia returned to replace Alvarez with another reliever. Seven runs scored.
“That’s the most frustrating part about that: they did all that with two outs,” Shoemaker said. “All of it.”
The free pass to Bogaerts was the second Shoemaker issued on the day and the seventh since his remarkable run began May 21. In his last eight starts before Sunday, Shoemaker had struck out 68 opponents and walked five. He had averaged more than seven innings a start and given up just one dozen earned runs.
“Don’t like that walk,” he said.
The Angels walked into three early outs on the bases. Yunel Escobar began the game with an ill-advised attempt to reach second after singling. Mike Trout tried to take third on a wild pitch and was thrown out by two feet. And Jett Bandy was caught ranging too far from second on a caught line drive.
Sean O’Sullivan opposed the Angels, called up from triple-A Pawtucket to make the start. Drafted and developed by the Angels, his track record was not good. Yet they could not score against him until they trailed by a ton.
Leading off the sixth, Andrelton Simmons singled off Bogaerts’ glove and stole second. Escobar then singled through to left and Kole Calhoun and Albert Pujols doubled. The Angels amassed three more hits to score their final two runs in the seventh, after which the Red Sox responded with three runs against Joe Smith. The Angels’ six pitchers let Red Sox on base almost as many times they retired them — 21 to 24.
For the Angels, Saturday was paradise, the day everything went their way. They scored 21 runs and limited a great-hitting team to two. Sunday represented a return to the disappointing norm of their 2016 season.
Eighty-two times they’ve played. Thirty-three times they’ve won.
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