Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The Red Sox own the Angels, but why?
By Mark Saxon
BOSTON -- On the fancy, new hi-def scoreboards here, it often reads, “Welcome to Fenway Park, America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.”
Is it now? Doesn’t that depend on who you ask?
The Angels aren’t going to miss this little green patch of misery when they skip town after Thursday afternoon’s game, but they really can’t blame this old building, or even its raucous fans. It’s just another setting for the same old drama.
The Angels have lost 15 of their last 16 games to the Boston Red Sox. There are a lot of theories for such an utter lack of rivalry in a “rivalry” that is sloping so steeply from East to West, it could lead to rock slides. Yeah, the Angels swept Boston out of the 2009 playoffs, but since then … wow.
How to break it down? There’s the “small-bang theory,” that the Angels just aren’t hitting well enough to hang with an expensive East Coast lineup these days. In the six games they’ve played in 2011, the Red Sox have scored 36 runs. The Angels have scored 13. That’s the one Mike Scioscia is going with.
“We need to start playing baseball on the offensive end,” Scioscia said after watching his team go 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and strike out 12 times Tuesday, prolonging season-long trends. “There are some components that are working, but it’s like you start a fast break in basketball and you’re missing layups.”
There’s the “bum-luck” idea, that one or two little things always seem to go Boston’s way to tip things in their favor. Jered Weaver floated that one after an umpire didn’t call a strike for him in a key at-bat Monday night. Then, there’s the “Hey, gimme a break, they’re a good team,” notion. Dan Haren, who can’t seem to catch a break or a shred of run support, figures it’s a combination of those last two.
“That’s not like losing 15 out of 16 to -- no disrespect -- the Mariners or the Pirates,” Haren said. “It’s the Boston Red Sox. They’re a good ballclub. But in order to win 15 of 16, you have to have a little luck on your side. I mean, a lot of things have to happen. It’s not that easy.”
Haren should make a lot of friends in Seattle and Pittsburgh with that comment.
Then, Torii Hunter trotted out a new one after Tuesday’s 7-3 loss, much of the scoring taking place after Haren and Jon Lester had left the field of play. Maybe Boston’s edge is in its experience. When you stock up on expensive veterans, you get their baseball brains as well as their broken-in bats, arms and gloves. The Angels have their youngest team under Scioscia and the seventh-youngest in baseball.
“[My] first two years, I felt like we were a little more mature, a little older with a mixture of young guys. We’ve got a lot of new faces, a lot of guys with less than five years in the big leagues, still trying to find their way,” Hunter said. “Consistency could be a factor, but you’ve got to do something.
“We’re all competitors. At the end of the day, we want to win and these guys are slapping the hell out of us right now.”