By Sean McAdam
BOSTON - It was a game, naturally, that seemed to have an endless number of turning points, and, correspondingly, innumerable opportunities to second-guess strategy.
If you could stay awake long enough to watch the Red Sox' maddening 5-3, 13-inning loss to the Los Angeles Angels Thursday morning, you could pick apart a dozen or so plays or sequences or moves.
We'll keep it to a three.
Twice, Terry Francona lifted middle-of-the-order hitters for pinch-runners.
In the eighth, after Adrian Gonzalez reached on a swinging bunt (which scored the first Boston run) and took second on reliever Fernando Rodney's throwing error, Francona lifted him for pinch-runner Marco Scutaro.
Scutaro got to third when Kevin Youkilis lined a hard single to left, but was stranded there when David Ortiz flied to center.
That left Scutaro, hitting .197 when the game began, hitting in the third spot in the order. His spot would comeup two more times when the Sox would have liked Gonzalez's bat there. But that's the tradeoff made for the short-term gain in speed on the basepaths.
Ironically, Scutaro made the biggest out of the game when he was cut down at the plate in the 12th trying to score from first on a Wall double from Kevin Youkilis with one out.
It took a perfect relay, but left fielder Vernon Wells to shortstop Erick Aybar to catcher Jeff Mathis did the trick.
"We were all on the top step of the dugout, thinking maybe we'd get to go home," said Francona. "It turns out we didn't."
Also, Francona chose to lift Ortiz for Darnell McDonald in the 10th after Ortiz worked a two-out walk.
McDonald would get stranded at home in that inning, then came up in the 12th after Scutaro was thrown out at home. He got an infield single, moving Youkilis to third, but Jed Lowrie grouding out to first for the final out of the inning.
Mike Cameron seemed to be overly aggressive in the ninth, though his manager absolved him of any blame after the game.
Cameron was on first and Jed Lowrie was on second with no outs when Jordan Walden tossed a wild pitch. As catcher Hank Conger scrambled to get the ball, Lowrie took off for third and Cameron for second.
Conger threw to third hoping to get Lowrie, but the ball got past third baseman Alberto Callaspo and struck third-base umpire John Hirchbeck on the foot, with the ball tricking to short.
That was enough for Lowrie to score. But Cameron, motoring from second, was thrown out sliding into the bag for the first out of the inning. And though it's
impossible to think that the inning would have unfolded the exact same way had Cameron eithe been safe or remained in scoring position at second, the out seemed more costly when Carl Crawford followed with a double to left-center.
"I thought their guy shortstop Erick Aybar made a pretty good play,'' said Francona. "He's running, full-speed, barehands it . . . when that ball goes by third, Cam's going. It's unfortunate because if it doesn't hit the umpire, it probably rolls into the corner.
"Again, it's unfortunate, but it's hard to blame Cam for running right there. The result was terrible. I don't second-guess what he was doing. Aybar ended up making a pretty good play.''
In the ninth, Hideki Okajima began his third inning of relief, having come into the game with one out in the seventh.
Appearing to tire, Okajima gave up back-to-back hits, putting runners on the corners.
Francona opted for Tim Wakefield from the bullpen when hard-throwing Daniel Bard might have been the more logical choice.
Wakefield walked Peter Bourjos to fill the bases, then allowed a sacrifice fly to Aybar.
Had Bard came in there, he might have been able to get Aybar on a strtkeout, keeping what was then an insurance run off the board.
Then again, knowing that Bobby Jenks (arm cramp) was unavailable, Francona knew he would have to use his relievers sparingly, holding Bard out until the 11th and, as it turned out, 12th inning, too.