No matter what he threw or how many times he threw it, it became impossible for Franklin Morales to get his pitches to do what he wanted them to.
At the bleakest point of his two-thirds of an inning, he threw 10 straight balls.
After giving up a one-out double to Mike Trout in the seventh, and intentionally walking Albert Pujols one batter later, Morales watched his chance to escape unscathed vanish when Mark Trumbo buzzed an RBI double down the first base line, a hit that seemed to strip Morales of his command.
The fastballs that didn’t sail high above the strike zone missed well wide of it. His changeup dived into the dirt. He walked Howie Kendrick to loaded the bases, then with eight errant heaves issued Alberto Callaspo and Chris Iannetta run-scoring strolls to first.
The nightmarish four-run frame allowed the Angels to seal a 9-5 win in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday at Fenway Park.
Excluding the intentional walk, Morales threw 26 pitches (20 fastballs), but just nine strikes. Morales allowed four runs, after which his teammates in the infield surrounded him as manager John Farrell came from the dugout to take the ball.
Up to that point, the Sox had been in a tight trying to play catch-up with the Angels, who had come in dragging losses in five of their last six games.
The Angels’ early runs were cobbled together with an RBI single by Erick Aybar in the second and a sacrifice fly by Pujols and run-scoring ground out by Trumbo in the third.
That was as much as they could muster off Sox starter Felix Doubront, who gave up six hits and two walks but struck out four, leaning on a fastball that topped out at 93 miles per hour to keep the Angels at bay.
But Angels starter Tommy Hanson, pitching for just the second time since the sudden death of his stepbrother in April, was solid over five innings. The Sox’ damage against him, which amounted to a solo homer by Mike Carp and RBI single by Daniel Nava in the fourth, was minimal.
The Angels have won six straight games at Fenway going back to 2011, the longest streak in franchise history.Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.