The Red Sox, like the Yankees, won last night on a ninth-inning walk-off hit. But unlike the Yankees — who won their game because they’re an ass-kicking, name-taking winning machine with a fondness for celebratory pastries — the Red Sox did so because … the umpires are intimidated by the Fenway crowd? So says Angels closer Brian Fuentes, who was on the mound during the Red Sox ninth-inning rally, which came just a half-inning after a Bobby Abreu single gave the Angels an 8–7 lead.
“Especially here and some other places, they seem timid to make calls,” he said after twice failing to get a third strike called on pinch-hitter Nick Green, who wound up drawing a bases-loaded walk to score the tying run. “I’ve heard it from other guys that come in here and say that. That’s either because it’s a mistake, or they’re scared.”
Fuentes appeared to have an argument on both close calls: one on a check swing, and another on ball four. And the concept of officials being swayed by a home crowd isn’t exactly new. (In fact, in the NBA, it’s required.) But as much as we’d like to blame any and all Red Sox successes on the umpires, perhaps Fuentes should consider whether the loud ballpark rattled him. After all, he’s the one that loaded the bases in the first place. Also, the umpires probably didn’t have anything to do with left-fielder Juan Rivera opting not to dive for the game-winning bloop hit. But they did at least provide inspiration for Angels manager Mike Scioscia’s sarcastic money quote: “What was the count at the end, 3–4 to Green?” Zing!