After two games, the Angels have erased the letters H and E from the word HEX. Two starts, two great pitching performances, and two days with just enough offense to get the Angels over the hump. They’ll board a plane tomorrow and fly back to Boston with a 2-0 series lead in the best of five ALDS.
Jered Weaver backed up John Lackey’s gem from last night with one of his own, limiting the Red Sox to two hits and two walks over 7.1 innings, while striking out seven. Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen, and Brian Fuentes took the reins and finished off the victory, ensuring a comfortable Saturday for nervous Angels fans everywhere.
The Sox got the scoring started in the fourth inning when Jacoby Ellsbury led the inning off with a triple. Two batters later, Victor Martinez singled him home, and the Sox had a 1-0 lead.
The Angels didn’t wait long to respond. Bobby Abreu led off the bottom of the fourth with a base hit. After Mike Lowell made a great play on a Torii Hunter line drive, Vladimir Guerrero singled Abreu to third. Kendry Morales cashed him in with a sacrifice fly to right field, and the Angels tied the game at 1.
Weaver and Beckett matched zeroes in the fifth and sixth innings, but the Angels jumped in front in the bottom of the seventh. Guerrero walked to lead off the inning, and pinch runner Howie Kendrick stole second. Two outs later, clutch God Maicer Izturis singled him home. Josh Beckett hit Mike Napoli with a curve ball two put runners on first and second. Erick Aybar followed with the big blast to center field, a triple over the head of Ellsbury that gave the Angels a 4-1 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Thoughts on Game 2:
- Through two games last year, the Angels’ 6-9 plus leadoff hitters were a combined 4-42, with three walks, and six total bases. This season they’re 7-34 with 11 total bases. The difference has almost totally been Erick Aybar, who has a double and a triple so far, and whose triple tonight was the difference in the game.
- I still think these teams are almost dead even. If you started this series fresh tomorrow, I could easily see the roles completely reversed. But for now, the Angels are outplaying the Red Sox, and the biggest key has been their clutch hitting. That’s been the Angels’ M.O. in the regular season this decade, but severely lacking come playoff time. This year seems different.
- The Angels take two left handers into Boston, seemingly a graveyard for lefties. But both Scott Kazmir and Joe Saunders have been excellent against the Red Sox in their careers. The matchups favors the Angels from this point, but things change again if we go to a fifth game.
- The best the Angels could hope for, going into this series, are deep runs from their starters, and low leverage situations for their relievers. They’ve got that so far. If they can get that again on Sunday, they’ll be preparing for the ALCS.