Matt Palmer overcame a shaky start and retired the last 19 Red Sox hitters he face. Mike Napoli saved a run by cutting down Jacoby Ellsbury trying to steal second, then blasted a three run shot to center field, which gave the Angels a lead that they would not relinquish.
Mike Scioscia, perhaps second guessing himself after last night’s bullpen meltdown, allowed Palmer to go the distance for his first major league complete game. Palmer surrended three hits in the first inning, including a two run shot to Jason Bay. In the second, he walked two and gave up a double to Nick Green as the Sox plated two more runs for a 4-0 lead.
But the Angels stormed back in the third inning against Tim Wakefield, as the first five hitters in the inning reached base. Reggie Willits, in for the ailing Gary Matthews, singled and stole second. Bobby Abreu walked. Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales delivered consecuting RBI singles, and Napoli cleared the bases with his bomb to center. Hunter added a solo shot of his own in the fourth inning, and the Angels tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth for the final margin.
Palmer was the story of the game, however. He needed 109 pitches to complete the game, allowing four runs on five hits, all in the first three innings. He didn’t allow a baserunner over the final six innings, and finished the game with eight strike outs, improving to 4-0 on the season in what may be his last start for a while.
* Palmer has made a strong case to stay in starting rotation. Ervin Santana will start tomorrow, and John Lackey returns on Saturday, but Palmer has earned the fifth spot over Shane Loux for now.
* Loux could be a valuable weapon out of the bullpen, especially if he enters a game with runners on base. He’s a good sinker baller, and has an above average GB/FB ratio. Just what you want when you need a double play.
* Mike Napoli’s bat has become a must have in the Angels line up. I don’t expect his average to remain high, but he and Torii Hunter are the only power sources right now, and he has the ability to carry an offense.