Los Angeles Angels: Jon Lester

The Red Sox own the Angels, but why?

May, 3, 2011
5/03/11
8:25
PM PT
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.”

That pretty much covers it.

Red Sox 4, Angels 3: Three Up, Three Down

April, 22, 2011
4/22/11
10:29
PM PT
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The dynamic duo of Jered Weaver and Dan Haren finally hit a snag.

The Boston Red Sox took advantage of some sloppy Angels defense to win their 11th game in the last 12 meetings between the teams, beating Haren (4-1) for a 4-3 win Friday night.

The Good:

Scrappiness. The Angels aren't hitting, but they are showing some fight. For the second night in a row, they rallied in the late innings. The eighth-inning rally was a weird one, with Bobby Abreu scoring all the way from second on a passed ball when Jarrod Saltalamacchia couldn't figure out where the ball went (not surprisingly, it rolled to the backstop).

(Early) Haren. It was far from a bad pitching performance by Haren, who had to throw lots of extra pitches because of the sloppy defense. He got through six innings, struck out six and only two of the four runs he gave up were earned. As the game moved into the middle innings, Haren had trouble putting away hitters.

Relief. The Angels had the best bullpen ERA (2.75) in the league entering Friday and that only got better after good outings from Francisco Rodriguez and Trevor Bell (called up before the game). The conditions for a rally were there. The rally was there. It just wasn't big enough.

The Bad:

Sleepy outfielders. Maybe the most dramatic improvement this season has been the fielding of the Angels' outfielders, but it was a liability on Friday. The big blow was Carl Crawford's high pop-up in the fourth inning that crossed up Peter Bourjos, Torii Hunter and Howie Kendrick. The ball glanced off Bourjos' body for a two-run error. Wells also bobbled a ball for an error that led to another run. Hunter looked like he could have caught Jarrod Saltalamacchia's third-inning double, too.

Swiss cheese. The Angels' lineup is full of holes in the wrong places. The middle of the order is making rallies disappear, with Abreu (.246, but snapped an 0-for-15 slump), Hunter (.212) and Wells (.183) all only hitting in fits and starts. Nobody is giving dependably good at-bats lately.

(Limited) patience. Even after they fell behind, the Angels seemed to have a chance because they were forcing Jon Lester to work hard in the early innings. Later, they got back to their free-swinging ways and Lester was able to get through six innings unscathed. After throwing 65 pitches to get through three innings, Lester needed only 46 for the next three. In his three at-bats vs. Lester, Wells saw a total of six pitches. That included a three-pitch strikeout.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Howie Kendrick
BA HR RBI R
.292 7 71 83
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 34
RBIM. Trout 107
RM. Trout 108
OPSM. Trout .947
WJ. Weaver 17
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOG. Richards 164