It's disconcerting, if not downright alarming, when the emotionally poised Alan Embree thinks that relieving anxiety the way Derek Lowe did Wednesday night -- by throwing a Dodger Stadium dugout chair and inadvertently bloodying his wrist -- might be the route to go.
''You know what?" Embree asked yesterday afternoon. ''It might help us out. Maybe that's what it's going to take. Maybe I need to snap. This is enough of this [expletive]. It's got to stop."
Embree's flashpoint was approaching yesterday after he allowed four runs in one-third of an inning, the most unsettling segment of an utter debacle of a day for the Boston bullpen. The short of it: Bronson Arroyo left with a 5-2 lead after six innings, and the Angels left the park for dinner around 6 p.m. having scored 11 runs off the Sox bullpen in a 13-6 win, Los Angeles's first against the Red Sox in nine games (postseason included).
The Sox bullpen's ERA swelled 56 points to 5.27, worst in the American League. Embree was branded with the loss, the bullpen's 10th, which is the most of any AL team based outside of Kansas City, Mo. Opponents have taken Sox relievers deep 19 times this season, which, not including last night's late games, was fewer than only Seattle and Kansas City, both with 21. Furthermore, the Sox relief corps is the only unit in the AL yet to record 100 strikeouts. The Sox have 96, and the AL average, entering yesterday, was 121.
This loss wasn't all on Embree, but, as he acknowledged, ''I was the first one. I set the tone for the game. I gave the first run to those guys. There shouldn't have been that pressure [on the bullpen].
''Right now I would expect me fully to be our mopup guy until I prove I'm capable of going out there and getting the job done. Right now I don't feel like a productive member of this team."
Embree's seventh-inning stay, on a day the Sox played for a painfully long 3 hours 51 minutes, was rather brief. Adam Kennedy doubled, Chone Figgins struck out, Kennedy stole third, Darin Erstad knocked in Kennedy with a single, and Steve Finley singled. And then, on a fastball that Embree said was well located on the outer third of the plate and low, Garret Anderson hit a wringing liner -- high on the giddy, low on the up -- into the Sox bullpen.
Embree, now 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA, has allowed seven home runs this year in 24 innings, after allowing that many in 52 1/3 innings all last season. He's reached double-digit homer totals only once in his career, in 1996 with Cleveland, when he was taken deep 10 times in 31 innings. In his last six appearances, spanning 4 2/3 innings, he's given up 10 runs, including three home runs: a walkoff blast to Toronto's Reed Johnson, a game-deciding homer to the Yankees' Gary Sheffield, and a momentum-changing blast to Anderson.
''I had a bad road trip, I was missing my spot, I was missing over the heart of the plate, and the hitters weren't missing," Embree said of the Johnson and Sheffield shots. ''The last three games I felt like I had good location. I'm healthy. That's the frustrating part. This time of year to be throwing as hard as I am there's got to be a point in time when it stops. It's got to stop. You feel like exploding inside."
Mike Timlin allowed a run in the eighth, and Matt Mantei came out for the ninth, when he came unglued. Mantei, who couldn't locate his fastball, recorded one out before allowing four straight Angels to reach base, three of whom he walked.
Only one run had crossed the plate when Mantei exited, after one-third of an inning with the bases loaded. In came John Halama. He recorded an out immediately, then allowed a two-out, two-run single through the right side to Erstad.
Finley followed with a two-run triple to right on a ball that fell between Mark Bellhorn and Trot Nixon. Both gave chase, but neither caught it, and a sliding Nixon undercut Bellhorn, sending the second baseman toppling. Anderson, with a single, knocked in Finley for the 13th run of the day and fifth two-out run of the inning.
''I guess," manager Terry Francona said, referring to his bullpen on the whole, ''if I said that's not how we drew it up, that'd probably be the understatement of the year.
''I don't know if I can put [the bullpen's woes] in a nutshell. There are probably a lot of different reasons for that. We've been inconsistent. If one guy has an inconsistency it leads to another guy pitching in a situation he really didn't want to get in."
The exploding 'pen stained a day that could/should have been one for celebration in the Fens. The weather was warm -- it was the first 80-degree day of the season at Fenway -- and a hard thrower was on the mound (Bartolo Colon), both factors that historically help Kevin Millar get going.
And he did, hitting as many home runs yesterday (two) as he had in the opening third of the season. Millar even came within a few feet of a three-homer day. He doubled off the top of the Wall in the second inning, hit a Colon cutter into the last row of the Monster seats in the fifth, and rocketed a Scot Shields fastball over the Sports Authority sign atop the Monster in the eighth.
Millar's authoritative blast, on Shields's first pitch of the day, momentarily pulled the Sox within 7-6.
Arroyo, meanwhile, pitched well enough to win. Figgins took him deep to lead off the game, but Arroyo allowed only two runs on six hits in six innings. In his previous three starts, he'd gone just 15 2/3 innings (at Oakland and Toronto and vs. Baltimore) and hemorrhaged 16 runs (13 earned) on 22 hits.
''He got us to a point we could go to our bullpen feeling good," Francona said. ''That doesn't sound like a very good statement now, postgame. We got to a point we thought we were pretty well set up to attack them, and it completely reversed itself."