Red Sox-Angels Preview

The Boston Red Sox’s second road trip looks nothing like their

first one. Daisuke Matsuzaka’s last outing looked nothing like his

first two.

The surging Red Sox look for their first four-game winning

streak of the season Saturday night when they try to continue their

recent dominance of the Los Angeles Angels.

Boston (8-11) lost all six road games on its season-opening

trip, but is now playing more like the club it expected to be when

it broke camp. The Red Sox dropped the opener of this nine-game

trip to fall to a franchise-worst 0-7 on the road, but have since

won three straight.

Matsuzaka (1-2, 6.43 ERA) felt he was pitching for his spot in

the rotation Monday after posting a 12.86 ERA in losing his first

two outings. The right-hander gave up a single in the first inning

and issued a walk in the second before retiring his final 16

batters over seven scoreless innings in a 9-1 Patriots Day rout of

Toronto.

“If I did pitch badly,” Matsuzaka said through a translator, “I

thought there wouldn’t be the next chance.”

The two baserunners matched the fewest he’s allowed in 101 major

league starts.

Matsuzaka is 2-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three regular-season starts

against the Angels. His lone major league start in Anaheim came in

a 2008 AL division series. He also threw five scoreless innings at

Angel Stadium for Japan to earn a victory over Mexico in the 2006

World Baseball Classic en route to winning MVP honors.

Boston’s starters have allowed no more than two earned runs in

any of the last seven games, posting a 1.19 ERA during that

stretch. Jon Lester pitched six scoreless innings in Friday’s 4-3

win.

“I remember back about the middle of that homestand, somebody

asked me: ‘What’s the best way to get it going?”’ Boston manager

Terry Francona said. “And I said, ‘A time or two through the

rotation and have them give us a chance every night.’ And that’s

exactly what’s happened.”

The Red Sox have captured the first two games of this four-game

set to improve to 11-1 against Los Angeles (12-8) since being swept

in a 2009 AL division series.

Boston has won six of seven overall, but may have to rest some

weary relievers Saturday. Bobby Jenks and closer Jonathan Papelbon

have pitched in each game of the three-game winning streak.

Francona said Daniel Bard was unavailable Friday due to the

right-hander’s heavy usage. Bard should be an option Saturday.

Saturday’s lineup should feature third baseman Kevin Youkilis,

who expects to return after sitting out Friday due to a bruised

shin.

“Yeah, I’ll play (Saturday), for sure,” Youkilis told the Red

Sox’s official website. “No doubt.”

The Angels have 16 strikeouts and five walks in this series. The

Red Sox have been more patient with 17 walks and 18 strikeouts.

Los Angeles starter Ervin Santana (0-2, 5.26) has done a good

job of limiting walks, allowing 2.5 per nine innings, but he’s

still seeking his first win. The right-hander yielded season highs

of six runs and 10 hits over four-plus innings Monday in a 7-1 loss

at Texas.

“I don’t think overall he was locked in, but he wasn’t far off,”

manager Mike Scioscia said.

Santana is 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in eight career regular-season

starts against the Red Sox, including 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA in two at

home. David Ortiz is 7 for 23 with two homers and 10 strikeouts

versus Santana.