By the time Jon Lester was facing Torii Hunter for the second time, in the bottom of the fifth, he'd already thrown more than 70 pitches.
This was, in part, the result of a third inning in which Lester had Hunter struck out on a beautiful pitch low and away, right on the black, which was called a ball. Lester then walked Hunter, and had to face Vladimir Guerrero with the bases loaded, striking him out on his 50th pitch.
After what should have been strike three on Hunter, Lester took a step toward the dugout, but got the bad news before he could take another. He stepped back to the mound with lips pursed, seeming at first to be regaining his poise, nodding and holding his glove out for the ball. But when his next pitch hit the dirt and Hunter took it for a walk, Lester lost his cool. Jaw clenched, he let out a GD, and got a visit from his pitching coach as Guerrero stepped in.
The strikeout of Guerrero was a crisp effort, though helped generously by the fact that Vladi seems to be swinging with his eyes closed these days.
Couple that with a long fourth inning in which Howie Kendrick was called safe at first after Youkilis tagged him, and things were unravelling quickly for the Sox. When a flagging Lester faced Hunter the second time, Hunter handed him the L with a three-run blast to left.
Curt Schilling had pointed out before the game that the umpiring might be a factor here:
To be honest, one of my biggest fears is the umpiring crew. This is about as bad a crew as I have ever seen assembled. Joe West, for all his pomp and circumstance, can ump a game. C.B. Buckner? Greg Gibson? Not so much. I’m blown away that A) They made the postseason and B) They are umping what I think will be the most-watched series. If I HAD to put them on the postseason roster, I’d try to hide them on the outfield foul lines of Colorado. Look for BOTH to have game impact in this series.
The controversies continued with a safe call on Howie Kendrick at first base in the sixth inning after Youkilis left the bag to field a throw from Lowell, but came back down again before Kendrick touched the bag. That much is crystal clear from every angle of every replay.
But while they were a factor, and while I found the edits to CB Bucknor's Wikipedia page as humorous as the next person, I'm not saying this game is the umpires' fault.
The Angels were also patient at the plate, confident in a way they weren't last year. They chipped away at Lester and frustrated him beyond the calls by umpires. The homer by Hunter was not cheap by any means. Juan Rivera followed that up with a ringing double down the third-base line, and had it not been for a diving stab by Gonzo at short on a grounder from Kendry Morales, the merry-go-round would've kept spinning.
Meanwhile, after the second Kendrick play, Lowell and Youkilis followed up by decisively throwing out Erick Aybar; Jacoby Ellsbury made a circus catch in deep right center to end the inning.
All of that is not even to mention the comedy of bullpen errors that followed for the Sox, or the offense that laid egg after egg, inning after inning.
Generally, I believe that you don't win or lose games solely because of officiating.
But if you're an Angels fan who's believed certain conspiracy theories alleging that the league advanced the Red Sox via the umpires last year, I really wonder what you're thinking right now.