Green musters critical, improbable walk
Shortstop, struggling with cramp issue, nearly collapses
BOSTON -- Nick Green was the Red Sox's last hope when manager Terry Francona called him to pinch-hit, down to the Angels by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
As much as Green hoped to produce another dramatic moment, like his walk-off home run around the Pesky Pole on Father's Day against the Braves, he was just trying to stay upright this time around.
Some unusual cramping in his right leg over the past couple of days had left Green feeling what he referred to as "dead leg."
He didn't mention it to Francona because he hadn't been playing and figured it would go away. But when Green dug in against Angels closer Brian Fuentes, he immediately knew he was in trouble, swinging and missing the first two pitches, and feeling virtually no strength in that left leg.
Then came the pitch that caused the Angels to be downright incensed. Green lost his balance, and took a partial swing, and first-base umpire Jeff Kellogg said he held up.
Green mustered just enough from his legs to foul the next three pitches off. Then he took two more balls, and the count was full. Up next came a 91-mph fastball from Fuentes, and Green froze. The Angels thought they finally had the game won. But the pitch might have been just low, giving Green and the Red Sox a game-tying walk that set up a walk-off single from Alex Gonzalez in a 9-8 win.
"What was the count -- 3 and 4, to Green?" Angels manager Mike Scioscia asked the assembled media postgame.
Green might have gotten away with a walk, but he didn't much care.
"I was basically fighting for my life. It's hard to explain," said Green. "Look at the replay. Look at all the swings. I couldn't really swing. Physically, I was not healthy. I don't know what it is."
Green's just glad he could avoid some ultimate blooper reels after drawing the clutch walk.
"I almost collapsed every single swing and almost collapsed walking down to first and almost collapsed when I was leading off [first]," said Green. "I don't know what's wrong with it. I didn't even take a secondary lead."
The whole thing was exhilarating for the Red Sox, and nauseating for Scioscia, who has had a ton of tough losses at Fenway Park in recent years.
"I thought we had him a couple times," Scioscia said. "I was surprised. It's a good umpiring crew. We really feel strongly a couple times we had Green struck out."
But Green stayed on his feet, and drew what was probably the biggest walk of his career.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.