Red Sox-Angels Preview

The surging Los Angeles Angels are certainly satisfied with

their early results, while the Boston Red Sox have been perhaps the

majors’ biggest disappointment in April.

The Angels hope that means things will go differently in this

matchup than they did in 2010.

Losers of nine of 10 in last season’s series, the Angels open a

seven-game homestand on Thursday night when the Red Sox try to

build off their first road win of the year.

By completing a 5-1 trip Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over

Texas, Los Angeles (12-6) begins this four-game series with a

one-game AL West lead over the Rangers.

“We’re a long way away from where we need to be for the long

haul,” said manager Mike Scioscia, whose team has won 11 of 14.

Los Angeles went 4-2 on its first homestand but hit just .214

while averaging 2.8 runs.

The Angels were even worse in the Red Sox’s last visit July

26-28, hitting .212 and scoring eight runs while getting swept at

home in this series for the first time since July 31-Aug. 2,

1998.

Boston (6-11) looks for continued success at Angel Stadium after

picking up its first road win of the season Wednesday, 5-3 over

Oakland. The Red Sox had not scored in their previous two games

away from Fenway Park and were a franchise-worst 0-7 on the

road.

“It’s a little late, but it feels good,” manager Terry Francona

said after his team won for the fourth time in five games. “… We

need to try to stay in the moment and win.”

Giving the ball to Josh Beckett (2-1, 1.80 ERA) could help the

Red Sox continue their climb out of the AL East cellar. The

right-hander has 19 strikeouts while allowing just five hits and

one run over 15 innings in his last two starts, both victories.

“He definitely should feel good about himself the first three

outings,” catcher Jason Varitek said after Beckett struck out nine

in seven innings of Saturday’s 4-1 win over Toronto. “At least he’s

had his health to build on that since spring training.”

Beckett went 6-6 with a career-worst 5.78 ERA in 2010, when he

missed more than two months with a strained back.

“I know I stunk last year. We all know that,” the former World

Series MVP told the Red Sox’s official website. “I think maybe we

need to move forward a little bit.”

Beckett earned the win in Boston’s last game in Anaheim, but he

surrendered six runs in a 7-2 home loss Aug. 19 that prevented the

Red Sox from a 10-game sweep of the season series. They had been

swept by Los Angeles in the 2009 AL division series.

Vernon Wells hit his first homer in an Angels uniform Wednesday,

but the former Toronto Blue Jay has plenty of experience circling

the bases against Beckett. Wells is 12 for 38 (.316) with five

homers – the most by any player versus Beckett.

Tyler Chatwood (1-1, 3.75) will face the Red Sox for the first

time Thursday. The rookie right-hander makes his third career start

five days after earning his first win, 7-2 at the Chicago White

Sox.

“Nerves were gone,” Chatwood said after surrendering one run in

seven innings. “I just felt more confident.”

He’ll need that confidence against David Ortiz and Kevin

Youkilis, who hit a combined .392 (20 for 51) with six homers off

Angels pitching last season. Ortiz should be back in the lineup

Thursday after Youkilis replaced him as DH and went 2 for 4 with a

homer Wednesday.

Boston’s Jed Lowrie, who also was 2 for 4 with a home run in the

win, is batting .531 (17 for 32) with three homers and 11 RBIs in

his last nine games.