Alex Meyer threw, turned, and stared at Pesky’s Pole in disbelief, his face illustrating the indignation he felt, at himself, at this game, at his night he knew was soon to be finished.
He had flung six pitches to Hanley Ramirez in Friday’s fourth inning at Fenway Park, each tempting enough for Ramirez to consider swinging, none overly so. In a 3-and-2 count, he fired a slider away from the Boston designated hitter, who seemed to anticipate it.
Ramirez’s swing carried the ball 350 feet to right field, far enough in this relic of an earlier era to be a two-run home run.
“That,” Meyer said, “was the last thing I was thinking was gonna happen.”
In the aftermath of the Angels’ 9-4 loss, Meyer had come to understand that the Red Sox had watched ample film from his last start. Surely, he reasoned, they saw how often and how he used his slider and planned their response.
In that outing, a dominant victory over Kansas City, Meyer had tamed his season-long wildness, focused on firing his fastball anywhere in the zone and spinning some 50 sliders. The Royals swung at 27 of them and missed 18, both career highs.
Friday, Meyer threw 40 breaking balls, his truthfully a blend between a slider and curveball. The Red Sox swung at 14 of his hybrid offerings and missed only two, which discouraged him.
“I didn’t feel like I had any strikeout stuff,” Meyer said.
But the seeds of his displeasure sprouted an hour earlier, when the 6-foot-9 right-hander’s first three pitches of the game were balls. With his fifth pitch, he walked Mookie Betts.
“That’s three straight games now where I’ve been at least 3-and-0 on the first guy of the game,” Meyer said. “You have to be better than that.”
Betts stole second base while Meyer walked Dustin Pedroia on eight pitches. Xander Bogaerts next punched a run-scoring double into left, and a second run scored on Meyer’s first wild pitch. Boston’s third run scored on Meyer’s second wild pitch of the inning. He expended 38 pitches to get out of it.
“The stuff tonight was just, honestly, stupid,” Meyer said. “It’s just unacceptable. You can’t go out there and, basically before the game starts, just put them out there on first and second.”
Meyer needed 27 pitches to retire the Red Sox in order the next two innings. After the Angels managed a run in the top of the fourth on an Albert Pujols double and Andrelton Simmons single, the pitcher’s struggles returned.
Mitch Moreland lined out to right and Andrew Benintendi doubled before Ramirez’s drive soared toward the pole. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Sandy Leon followed with singles, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia pulled Meyer for right-hander Eduardo Paredes.
On the first pitch of Paredes’s major league career, Deven Marrero tried to squeeze in a run. The stout Paredes adeptly fielded it and flipped home for an out. The Angels soon escaped the inning, and Meyer escaped further damage to his earned-run average. He bore only the five runs in his 3 1/3 innings. Paredes gave up two in 2 2/3 innings, both on Leon’s sixth-inning homer.
Huston Street handled the seventh, his first major league inning in 11 months. Covertly, he checked his velocity readings during his perfect inning. He was pleased to see 88, 89 and 90 mph register on the scoreboard.
“At that range,” Street said, “I know I can get outs.”
The Angels (38-39) could produce nothing else, while the Red Sox managed more offense in the eighth against oft-plagued left-hander Jose Alvarez. The Angels notched as many hits as their opponents and more with runners in scoring position, but they did not have wildness on their side.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura