10/07/2004 2:04 AM ET
Angels heading to Boston down 0-2
Colon hangs on for six innings, only to see bullpen falter
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
|Dallas McPherson has incredible potential, but is he ready to play every day? (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Scioscia's postgame comments
J. Molina picks off Bellhorn: 56K | 350K
Guerrero's two-run single: 56K | 350K
McPherson's RBI single: 56K | 350K
ANAHEIM -- It isn't Mission Impossible. But now the Angels will need every ounce of energy the Rally Monkey can give them.
Manny Ramirez snapped a seventh-inning tie with a sacrifice fly off Francisco Rodriguez and the Boston Red Sox went on to an 8-3 victory over the Angels on Wednesday night, giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series. To keep their dreams of a second world championship in three years alive, the Angels would have to win twice at Fenway Park and then again in Anaheim on Sunday.
As they make their cross-country flight on Thursday morning, the Angels will think about missed opportunities offensively and one pitch by Bartolo Colon that he'd love to have back. With a 3-1 lead and two outs in the sixth, Colon made a mistake with a cutter and Jason Varitek hit a two-run homer over the right-field wall.
"It was right in his wheelhouse," Colon said.
From that point on, it was all Boston.
The pivotal sixth inning started with an infield hit by David Ortiz. But when Trot Nixon bounced into a double play, it seemed as if Colon was going to get through the inning with the two-run lead intact.
"When we got the double play, I for sure thought I'd be able to put them away and get out of that inning," Colon said. "I just wasn't able to make a pitch [to Varitek]."
The Angels will be able to find a source of inspiration by studying the 2001 Yankees, who are the only club to have lost the first two at home and come back to win a Division Series. That New York club won two in Oakland and then finished off the A's at Yankee Stadium.
But if the Angels are to have a chance at climbing out of a deep hole, manager Mike Scioscia knows they'll have to be more fundamentally sound than was the case in the opening two games at Angel Stadium.
"We didn't do the things offensively that we needed to do," Scioscia said. "We didn't get our bunts down, we had a chance to go first to third a couple of times and didn't take advantage of it. Those are things we have to have in our game."
|Teams to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a five-game postseason series:||Year
|*Divisional playoffs in strike-shortened season|
Although they managed to jump ahead by 3-1 in the fifth on a two-run single by Vladimir Guerrero off Pedro Martinez, the Angels could have had a much bigger inning. With runners at first and third and one down, Garret Anderson ripped a liner that happened to go directly at first baseman Kevin Millar for an unassisted double play.
"If we pick up a run there, it could have been a different situation for everybody," Scioscia said. "But, hey, Boston went out and did what they had to do. They got to one of the best bullpens in baseball."
Colon didn't allow a run in the opening inning, but that zero came at a high price. Colon surrendered two hits and a walk and needed 24 pitches to get through the frame. Colon went to 3-2 on Millar with the bases loaded before Millar grounded out to shortstop.
The second inning proved even more laborious for Colon. After the first two batters were retired, Bill Mueller stroked a soft single. That hit came after Colon and the Angels believed they had a strikeout, but didn't get a two-strike call when Colon attempted to hit the outside corner. Colon's early pitch count mounted as Johnny Damon singled and Mark Bellhorn walked. Ramirez barely missed an opposite-field grand slam with a drive that just sliced foul and missed the yellow pole by a few feet. But Ramirez wound up drawing an RBI walk to give Boston the early 1-0 lead.
The Red Sox missed an opportunity for a big inning against a wavering Colon when backup catcher Jose Molina -- starting because of Colon's comfort level with him -- alertly noticed Bellhorn straying too far off second. Molina's pickoff throw to second had Bellhorn by plenty and Colon had a reprieve.
The momentum shifted for a while on Molina's heads-up throw and the Angels tied the game at 1 on Troy Glaus' walk, Jeff DaVanon's single and a run-scoring hit by Dallas McPherson. But the failure of Molina to sacrifice the runners over stunted that rally.
Anaheim managed to surge ahead in the fifth. Molina lifted what looked like a routine popup to short left leading off, but Ramirez and shortstop Orlando Cabrera got their signals crossed with the ball falling for a gift single. The Angels took advantage of that break as David Eckstein singled and Darin Erstad was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Guerrero promptly came through with a two-run single for a 3-1 Anaheim advantage.
Colon's heavy pitch count finally caught up to him in the sixth. The two-run homer by Varitek came on Colon's 110th pitch of the night. .
That set the stage for Ramirez to deliver the game-winning run with his seventh-inning sacrifice fly off Rodriguez. Boston padded its lead in the ninth off Brendan Donnelly with a run-scoring single by Nixon and a three-run double by Cabrera.
"It's frustrating because we haven't been doing the things in this series that we normally do so well," Erstad said. "This game makes no sense sometimes. We just have to keep battling."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.