Reporting from Boston -- That it was John Lackey, their former teammate and ace, who shut them down Wednesday night was of little consequence to the Angels, whose 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park extended their losing streak to six games.
“The way we’re going, everyone looks like Cy Young,” center fielder Torii Hunter said. “When it’s going bad, it’s going bad. In the last six games we’ve had our . . . handed to us.”
The Angels managed just two hits Wednesday night, their run scoring on Brandon Wood’s solo homer in the fifth inning. Lackey, who left the Angels to sign a five-year, $82.5-million deal with the Red Sox, threw seven superb innings to improve to 3-1.
Six games into a 10-game trip to Detroit, Boston and Seattle, the Angels are batting .226 (44 for 195) and have scored 19 runs. They have hit two homers and are batting .206 (seven for 34) with runners in scoring position. They have been outscored 155-112 on the season.
It was the team’s first 0-6 mark to start a trip since July 21-26, 1999, and its first six-game losing streak since April 12-18, 2007.
“It’s got to stop somewhere,” Hunter said. “It’s frustrating, but this is where you see who has the heart. You’ve got to dig deep, keep battling, keep fighting, keep grinding. You’ve got to find your way through the forest.”
That’s tough when the heart of the order looks more like the Brothers Grim.
No. 2 hitter Bobby Abreu has one hit in 18 at-bats and no runs batted in over the last five games. No. 3 batter Hunter is two for 13 with no RBIs in four games. No. 5 hitter Hideki Matsui is four for 36 with two RBIs in 10 games.
Leadoff batter Erick Aybar (.236 average, .314 on-base percentage) hasn’t provided much of a spark, and the production at the bottom of the order has been spotty.
And this is the lineup Mike Scioscia said could “potentially be the best batter’s box offense” since he became manager in 2000?
“We haven’t squared the ball up like we can, we haven’t pressured teams,” Scioscia said. “Teams have played well against us, but we have to bring our game up. There is very little momentum being created out there.
“We’ve got to find something that is going to be a catalyst for us. These guys not only have the potential to play at a higher level, particularly on the offensive end, they’ve done it. But we haven’t clicked. It’s a daily chore for us to find that offensive chemistry.”
There’s not much Scioscia can do to shake things up. Maicer Izturis would be a logical replacement at the top of the order, but a sore shoulder has prevented the utility infielder from playing defense.
Robb Quinlan and Reggie Willits are the other bench options. And there is no Justin Smoak, no Jason Heyward, no Austin Jackson, at triple-A Salt Lake to boost the offense.
“The major names on this team are not going to change,” Scioscia said. “The core group is here. We’re really confident they’re going to swing the bats better. The change on this club is going to come from production from within.”
The Angels got their second quality start in as many nights Wednesday, as Joel Pineiro allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings, but he gave up an RBI single to Adrian Beltre in the second and a solo homer to David Ortiz in the fourth.
Beltre blasted a solo homer to deep center off closer Brian Fuentes in the eighth, and Lackey and relievers Red Sox Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon retired the last 13 batters.
“Man, it’s rough,” Hunter said. “But we went through a skid like this last April and May and came back and won 97 games. It’s too early to say how this team is going to end up.”
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