In the end, a change of venue meant nothing. The results were the same for the Angels and starting pitcher Phil Leftwich.
The Angels, who were swept in three games at Boston last weekend, couldn’t handle the Red Sox again, and Leftwich couldn’t overcome a horrible start, losing his fourth game this season.
A four-run first inning was too much to overcome and the Angels fell, 6-4, before 30,178 Friday at Anaheim Stadium.
When it was over, the Angels held a short team meeting, but Manager Buck Rodgers, who was ejected by home plate umpire John Hirschbeck for arguing a called third strike on Chad Curtis in the fifth, said nothing about it.
“If I wanted you to know what was said, I would have invited you in,” he said.
Leftwich recovered to pitch 7 2/3 solid innings, but he looked as if he wouldn’t survive the first inning. Four batters into the game, the Red Sox had a 4-0 lead.
After a leadoff walk to Otis Nixon, he gave up singles to Mike Greenwell and Tim Naehring. Naehring’s hard-hit single to left-center scored Nixon for the game’s first run.
Mo Vaughn then slammed a 1-and-2 pitch 10 rows deep into the right-field stands for a three-run homer and a 4-0 lead before Leftwich could record an out.
Rodgers wouldn’t say Leftwich’s future with the Angels rested with this start.
“It’s important for him,” Rodgers said. “It’s important for us. It’s not a make-or-break start. We’re not going to ship him to Siberia. It’s important in the grand scheme of things.”
With injured starters Joe Magrane and Mark Langston expected back next month and rookie Brian Anderson pitching so well, Leftwich needed to impress in order to stay in the majors.
It wasn’t a bad outing, but even if he had overwhelmed Boston, it might not have been enough to keep him from being sent to triple-A Vancouver when Magrane and Langston are sound again.
“After the second, he pitched super,” Rodgers said. “We were just in such a hole we couldn’t make it back. I think obviously after the first it was a plus.
“If it serves as a kick in the butt for him, it’s a good performance. If it just means he can pitch better when he’s down, 4-0, it’s not.”
But it certainly didn’t help matters that Leftwich faced a Red Sox team that was putting the finishing touches on the finest April in club history.
A congratulatory note from General Manager Dan Duquette was posted in the visitors’ clubhouse before the game. It read:
“Dear Butch (Hobson) and team, congrats on winning more games in April than any other Red Sox team in history. We’re off to a great start. Keep it going!”
The Red Sox improved to 16-7 with their ninth victory in 11 games.
Boston starter Aaron Sele (3-0) held the Angels to a single by rookie catcher Jorge Fabregas in the first four innings.
Chili Davis ended Sele’s shutout bid with a leadoff homer in the seventh. Sele didn’t make it out of the inning, giving way to Scott Bankhead after walking the next batter, Eduardo Perez.
Bankhead avoided further trouble by retiring the next three batters.
Sele left after giving up five hits and one run with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Trailing, 6-1, entering the bottom of the eighth, the Angels rallied. Scott Cooper, hitting .436 in the last 11 games before Friday, had hit the first pitch from reliever Bob Patterson for a two-run home run to right in the top of the inning.
But Damion Easley hit a two-run homer off Bankhead and Dwight Smith later scored when Perez grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.
In the ninth, Boston Manager Hobson went with Ken Ryan rather than standout closer Jeff Russell, who saved victories over Oakland Wednesday and Thursday.
Ryan, who would pick up his first save, was in immediate trouble through little fault of his own. Fabregas reached base on an infield single and Harold Reynolds grounded into what should have been a double play, but Cooper threw the ball into right field.
Gary DiSarcina sacrificed to put the tying runs on second and third, but Easley struck out and Smith grounded out to end the game.