Thursday, August 30, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Angels 5, Red Sox 2
By Ramona Shelburne
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- There was a time, not so long ago, when the Boston Red Sox owned the Los Angeles Angels here in Anaheim. Before this week, the Red Sox had beaten the Angels in every game here since 2009. They flat-out owned them.
But these Red Sox are not those Red Sox. Not after their September collapse last season and the continuing malaise that led to last week's blockbuster trade with the Dodgers.
The Angels have had a field day with these Red Sox of late, beating them again Thursday 5-2 to complete the first season sweep of Boston in franchise history.
Zack Greinke (3-2) earned the win with seven strong innings, giving up two runs and five hits and striking out seven, and Albert Pujols (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) continued his torrid second half despite a strained right calf.
The Angels (69-62) remain 3 1/2 games back of Baltimore and Oakland in the American League wild-card chase.
Pujols poppin': Pujols continues to mash since the All-Star break. While he didn't homer on this night (as he has in five of his past 10 games), Pujols slammed a two-run double in the bottom of the first to stake Greinke to an early lead, and the righty cruised from there. Pujols finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, and is hitting .287 with 29 homers.
What slump? Seems as if just the other day we were asking Torii Hunter why he'd fallen into an 0-for-13 skid. But with back-to-back 3-for-4 nights, including a great table-setting effort Thursday night, it's clear Hunter has ironed out whatever had gone askew and is back to having a great August (.333, 36-for-108).
Now that's more like it: Greinke wasn't overpowering Thursday, but the Angels don't need him to be. Instead he was just very good on his way to his third win in his past four starts. Greinke gave up two runs and struck out seven in seven innings before giving way to the bullpen, which held down the win without much incident. "The main thing is I'm not worried about messing up. I was already doing so bad so," Greinke said of his six-game Angels career. "One more bad game isn't that big of a deal, so I'm just kind of pitching and letting things happen. It's been working good the last two games."
Hurtin' Howie: Second baseman Howie Kendrick had to leave the game in the third inning because of a sore right knee. Kendrick flied out in his only at-bat of the game, ending his 15-game hit streak.
Standings: The Angels swept a season series from Red Sox for the first time in franchise history and now have won seven of their past nine games, but Baltimore and Oakland, the two teams leading them in the wild-card standings (and yes, that's what we're checking now), continue to roll. Oakland beat Cleveland 12-7 and Baltimore beat the White Sox so the Angels remain 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card chase.
Pujols' calf: Pujols' injured right calf isn't affecting his hitting one bit. But it's pretty clear watching him run -- or rather, trot-- around the bases that he's still being cautious with it. The longer he's holding back with it, the longer the Angels have to worry about him reinjuring it.