Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before
The Angels worked for 162 games to secure a division title and home field advantage in the playoffs. They worked for three hours to lose it. After a season in which they worked so hard to convince their fans and the baseball world that this was the Angels team that could finally beat the hated Red Sox, it took them nine innings to convince everyone that really nothing had changed.
Jason Bay's sixth inning two run homer provided all the firepower the Red Sox needed as they beat John Lackey and the Angels 4-1. The October anemia that has afflicted the Angels offense since 2004 has not been cured by a shot of Teixeira, and they've brought their whole season down to one game on Friday.
The Angels wasted early opportunities, leaving the bases loaded in the first inning, before catching a break when Jed Lowrie booted Vladimir Guerrero's routine ground ball. Torii Hunter singled to left, scoring Garret Anderson, who had earlier singled. In the top of the sixth, John Lackey made his only mistake. Mike Napoli called for a low fastball, Lackey elevated it, and Bay jacked it out to deep left field for a lead that the Red Sox wouldn't relinquish. John Lester escaped the early trouble, found his command, and was kryptonite to Angels bats through seven innings, allowing only the one unearned run. He dominated the 6, 7, 8, 9 and 1 hitters, who combined to go 0 for 16, a black hole that the Angels couldn't escape. After a season that looked so promising, the Angels play for lives Friday night. Lose, and the season is all but over.
Top three Angels perfomers:
John Lackey worked 6 and 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, while walking three and striking out five. He made only one mistake, and it was the difference in the game.
Darren Oliver entered in the seventh in a jam, and struck out David Ortiz on a 3-2 curveball to kepp the Angels hopes alive. He retired two more hitters before leaving, having thrown a perfect inning.
Garret Anderson had two hits, and generally looked like he knew what he was doing, a rarity in the Angel lineup.
Jeff Weaver of the game:
Take your pick of just about the whole offense. Special recognition to Chone Figgins, who dropped his post-season average to barely over .150, and who's last at bat consisted of five takes, three for strikes. Gary Matthews Jr. deserves a shout out as well, for going hitless, and misplaying a ball in right field. Good thing he's in there for his defense. You can call out Vlad as well, for getting thrown out at third by 30 feet after a bloop single by Hunter, but the only way he was going to score was via an out, and you can't do that from second, so maybe some agression was warranted.
Play of the game:
Bay's two run homer.
What to look for Friday:
One team is confident, experienced, and knows how to win in October. One team is desperate. On the plus side, the Angels send the better pitcher, Ervin Santana, to the mound against Dice-K. But if half the lineup can't produce a hit, Friday night may be the penultimate nail in the 2008 coffin.
Game time is 6:30 PDT on TBS