With the Los Angeles Angles holding a six-game lead over the Rangers in the AL West and the Red Sox sitting 6.5 up in the wild card (also over the Rangers), the only reason LA's current visit to Fenway should hold our attention is because it is, in all likelihood, a preview of one of the two ALDS series this year.
If last night's game was any indication, the two teams' fourth postseason meeting in five years will be controversial, to say the least.
In a baseball fan's kind of game, the two team battled it out last evening for just over four hours. The game saw Boston come back no less then three times to win, 9-8, in the bottom of the ninth. It was that half frame that apparently has a lot of eyebrows raised.
The primary issue, at least for Angels' closer Brian Fuentes, had to do with the usually vocal Fenway faithful and an umpiring crew who Fuentes believes were "scared" to make calls against the home team. (See Fuentes' statements here.)
Whether or not the crowd had anyone afraid, some very questionable calls by home plate umpire Rick Reed toward the end of the game were very much key in the Red Sox' win.
A nine-pitch at-bat for Nick Green (pinch-hitting for Casey Kotchman) ended with a bases-loaded walk on a pitch that was low but very obviously not a ball. Green's battle to a full count had also included a questionable check-swing confirmed on appeal by the first base umpire, Jeff Kellog.
With the game tied, Boston shortstop Alex Gonzalez stepped to the plate. The count at 1-2, he punched a bloop toward Juan Rivera in left field. The ball fell in to score the winning run as Rivera, who did not appear to many to be running very hard for the ball, let it drop without a dive.
As one blogger put it, "I just can't get over Juan Rivera's complete lack of effort..."
With the game on the line, it would certainly seem that Rivera's had enough incentive to make a brasher play on the ball. Considering his team is facing their all-but-definite playoff foes, having a little bit of momentum coming out of this series should have been a lofty enough goal to merit a dirty uni.
Unless something very strange comes to pass (which certainly can in baseball), these two teams will be playing each other come October. The odds-on bet is for a very interesting series.