Angels brace for Sale, Red Sox in series opener (Jul 21, 2017)

BY AP • July 21, 2017

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels were fortunate to miss National League All-Star starter Max Scherzer when the Washington Nationals came to town for a two-game series.

But they won't avoid American League All-Star starter Chris Sale.

Sale (11-4, 2.59 ERA) will start for the Boston Red Sox in the opening contest of a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels on Friday, and that isn't good news for the home team.

Sale has never faced the Angels in a Red Sox uniform. But, during his seven seasons with the Chicago White Sox, he dominated them, going 5-0 with a 1.39 ERA in eight career games (six starts). That includes one of his two career shutouts.

One Angels hitter, though, has somehow found a way to handle Sale relatively well. Not surprisingly, it's Mike Trout. Trout has five hits in 16 career at-bats against Sale, including a double and a grand slam.

Trout, though, won't say he has Sale figured out.

"You get one pitch to hit," Trout told the L.A. Times last year. "You miss it, he'll put you in a hole."

Two other Angels one would not expect to have good numbers against Sale are not regular starters, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia might be wise to put them in the lineup Friday.

Infielder Cliff Pennington, who is in a platoon situation at second base with Nick Franklin, is 3-for-7 with a double against Sale, and reserve outfielder Shane Robinson, called up from Triple-A Salt Lake earlier this week, is 4-for-11.

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia comes into the series as hot as anyone in the league in the last couple weeks. He has a nine-game hitting streak and has hits in 11 of 12. In those 12 games, he's hitting .385 with four homers and 15 RBIs.

Like Trout, Pedroia approaches his at-bats understanding he likely will get no more than one good pitch to hit.

"Just try to get a good pitch to hit and don't miss it," Pedroia told "There's no secrets. All the pitchers we face now, they've all got good stuff. You're only going to get one pitch to hit, so you better make sure you square it up."

The pitcher Pedroia and his Red Sox teammates will face Friday is Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who has been unpredictable this season, to say the least.

He's 4-10 with a 4.82 ERA in 19 starts. But, in his last start, July 14 against Tampa Bay, he allowed one run and two hits in seven innings. And July 1 against Seattle, he threw a three-hit shutout.

But those two starts are sandwiched around a rough outing against Texas on July 7, when he gave up eight runs and lasted 1 2/3 innings.

Nolasco is 3-2 with a 5.68 ERA and one complete game in seven career starts vs. Boston.

The Red Sox got Xander Bogaerts back in the starting lineup on Thursday. He had been out the past two games, bothered by a muscle contusion and a sprained right hand after being hit by a pitch. He went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

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