Angels get the red out in 11-3 romp
One game does not a new world order make. Nor does one regular-season series.
For the Angels to break Boston’s spell over them, they must end their nine-game playoff losing streak against the Red Sox, who swept the Angels out of the American League division series in 2004 and 2007 en route to winning the World Series both years.
And it will take games like Friday night’s, when the Angels pounded 14 hits off the Red Sox in an 11-3 victory, for the Angels to build the kind of confidence they’ll need to win a postseason series against their October nemesis.
Garret Anderson had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer in the fourth inning, and drove in five runs, and the Angels broke open the game with a four-run fifth to push their major league-best record to 58-38 and their AL West lead over Oakland to seven games.
John Lackey, whose career mark against the Red Sox (1-6, 6.27 earned-run average) was only slightly better than the Angels’ playoff record against them since Game 4 of the 1986 AL championship series, notched his first win over Boston since 2006.
The Angels ace gave up three runs and five hits and struck out six in seven innings to improve to 7-2, earning a rousing ovation after recording career strikeout No. 1,000 in the fourth.
“We have a long way to go,” Lackey said. “We’ve got to keep grinding. That’s a team we might run into again, but we’ve got to handle our business and talk about that when we get there.”
Manager Mike Scioscia said he’ll be happy to have another chance to talk about playing the Red Sox in October, but until then, he’s not going to dwell too much on it.
“What happens in October is the furthest thing from our minds,” Scioscia said. “They have a tough lineup, and we have to match them pitch for pitch or on the offensive side. It’s just good to see our offense do what it’s capable of, because we need it.”
The Angels, who are averaging 6.1 runs in 13 games in July after averaging 3.8 runs in June, were seven for 15 with runners in scoring position. They rocked Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz for three runs and four hits in the first, which featured back-to-back doubles by Casey Kotchman and Maicer Izturis and RBI singles by Vladimir Guerrero and Anderson.
But the highlight of the inning might have been Torii Hunter’s extremely Red Sox-like 12-pitch at-bat, which featured eight foul balls and ended in a walk. That helped push Buchholz’s pitch count to 37 in the first inning.
“He laid off a couple of good pitches to get on base,” Scioscia said. “We had some good at-bats tonight.”
Boston pulled even on Kevin Youkilis’ two-run homer in the second and Manny Ramirez’s solo shot in the fourth, but Anderson lined his ninth homer of the season into the right-field seats to lead off the fourth, making it 4-3.
The Angels capitalized on shortstop Alex Cora’s fielding error on Hunter’s slow roller in the fifth to score four unearned runs, a rally that included Anderson’s RBI single and Howie Kendrick’s two-run single.
Three more runs in the sixth, two on Anderson’s two-out single, and one on another hilarious Manny-being-Manny moment by Ramirez in left field, made it 11-3 Angels.
With Chone Figgins on third, Izturis lifted a fly to shallow left. Ramirez raced in but fell short on his dive attempt.
Ramirez stumbled while retrieving the ball and, perhaps thinking he’d get to the ball quicker, rolled over like one of those stop, drop and roll fire-escape maneuvers.
One problem: Ramirez rolled right on top of the ball, which was lodged between his rear-end and the ground. By the time Ramirez arched his back, retrieved the ball and threw to the infield, Izturis had an RBI triple.
The play left a sellout crowd -- as well as Ramirez -- in stitches.
“I felt,” Ramirez said, “like I was swimming in a swamp.”