Red Sox 5, Angels 0
For the most part, the Los Angeles Angels were having enough
trouble generating a consistent offense before the Boston Red Sox
came to town.
Facing a locked-in Daisuke Matsuzaka playing follow-the-leader
in a red-hot rotation didn’t help – especially with a makeshift
Matsuzaka held the Angels to an infield hit over eight innings
and struck out nine, Kevin Youkilis homered and the Red Sox beat
the Angels 5-0 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.
Los Angeles managed only two runs and eight hits in 22 innings
against Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Matsuzaka during the first
three games of this four-game set.
And it doesn’t figure to get any easier on Sunday, when John
Lackey faces his former club for the fourth time. Lackey, who
pitched eight seasons for the Angels and won Game 7 of the 2002
World Series, won all three starts against them last year.
”We’re in a little tough streak right now,” Angels manager
Mike Scioscia said. ”Those guys are pitching well, but we have to
do a better job against good pitching. We haven’t been able to do
it in this series. We were trying to work the counts on Matsuzaka
and drew a few walks, but for the most part, he had good command
and we paid a price for it.”
Matsuzaka (2-2) allowed only four baserunners, none of whom
advanced past second base. The only hit off the right-hander came
with one out in the second – a vicious line drive back to the box
by Alberto Callaspo that deflected off Matsuzaka’s glove as he
tried to protect his face, and caromed off his glove to shortstop
Jed Lowrie. Callaspo just beat Lowrie’s throw to first.
”He was hitting his spots, and it looked like those guys
weren’t feeling comfortable at the plate,” Youkilis said. ”When
he goes out there and throws strikes and throws it where he wants
to and get ahead, that’s what he can do.”
Matsuzaka, who came within one strikeout of matching his career
high, was coming off a 9-1 win last Monday at Fenway Park in which
he held Toronto to one hit over seven innings. That victory ended a
career-worst stretch of seven straight winless starts for the
five-year veteran, who came in with a career 5.88 ERA against the
Angels – including the postseason.
Los Angeles’ only other hit was an infield single to deep
shortstop by Erick Aybar against Daniel Bard leading off the ninth,
but the right-hander came back to strike out Bobby Abreu and Torii
Hunter before retiring Vernon Wells on a grounder to second.
The Red Sox extended their streak to eight consecutive games in
which their starting pitcher has gone at least five innings and
allowed fewer than three runs. The rotation, which has a 1.01
during this stretch, is one game away from tying the longest such
streak in franchise history, set in 1946.
With second baseman Howie Kendrick, catcher Jeff Mathis and
center fielder Peter Bourjos all getting rested, Scioscia shuffled
his lineup and had Hank Conger, Mark Trumbo and Reggie Willits
filling out the bottom three spots in the batting order. The trio
was a combined 0 for 8 with six strikeouts.
”We battled as much as we could, but (Matsuzaka) was just
better,” Trumbo said. ”He used his split-finger more to
left-handed hitters, and to the right-handed hitters he threw more
sliders. But it really didn’t matter. He was on. It was kind of
hard to establish a trend with him.”
Ervin Santana (0-3) gave up five runs and nine hits in seven
innings with nine strikeouts, raising his ERA to 5.51. It’s the
first time in the right-hander’s seven-year career that he has gone
winless in his first five starts. Last season he was 17-10, and in
2008 he started out 6-0 in seven starts.
Boston took a 2-0 lead with Carl Crawford’s RBI single in the
second inning and a run-scoring single by Adrian Gonzalez in the
third. It was only the fourth RBI for Crawford in his first 75
at-bats with the Red Sox, who signed the four-time All-Star to a
seven-year, $142 million free-agent contract in December after he
drove in a career-high 90 runs last season for Tampa Bay.
Youkilis made it 4-0 in the fifth with a two-out opposite-field
homer to right-center after a leadoff single by Jacoby
Varitek, who came in 1 for 17 lifetime against Santana, drove in
Boston’s fifth run with a double in the sixth after striking out
and grounding out his first two times up. The hit snapped an 0 for
19 drought overall for the Red Sox catcher, who started in the
ninth spot in the order for the first time since April 11, 2009, at
NOTES: The Red Sox have seven stolen bases during the first
three games of this four-game series, as many as they had during
their first 17 games. … Matsuzaka made his fourth career
regular-season start against the Angels and first in Anaheim. He
also faced the Halos twice in the postseason, getting no-decisions
in 2008 at the Big A and 2007 at Fenway Park.