Bit by bit, Angels coming undone
Serious lack of extra-base hits puts Halos in dire straits
ANAHEIM -- Surrounded by reporters in his hushed office after his Angels fell into an historically ugly hole with a 7-5 loss to the visiting Red Sox in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia fielded question after question regarding his club's offense.
Clearly exasperated after a while, Scioscia rubbed his balding pate, slid his hands behind his head and said, "Listen, guys, we scored enough runs to win the game tonight."
The problem, of course, is that the Angels did not win the game. The Red Sox did, and in doing so, they put Scioscia's club in the unenviable position of trying to become just the second team in baseball history to win a five-game Division Series after losing the first two at home.
An equally significant problem as it relates to the task ahead, however, is how the Halos did their scoring.
Whereas the Red Sox ripped off runs in a hurry, getting a three-run homer from Jason Bay in the first inning and a two-run shot in the ninth by J.D. Drew, the Angels had to cobble together fairly lengthy rallies with a sprinkler stream of singles and the occasional sacrifice fly.
Boston has done all the banging in this series, with 10 of its 11 RBIs coming by way of extra-base hits.
The Angels' offense, even with Mark Teixeira, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter going a combined 14-for-23 in the two games in Anaheim, has been dinking and dunking. Their first 19 hits of the series were singles before Chone Figgins tripled to open the bottom of the eighth Friday.
And if the Angels plan to postpone the party at Fenway Park with a win on Sunday, they'd be wise to take a page from Boston's book and cozy up with the seats over the Green Monster in left field, and to the left of the short porch in right protected by Pesky's Pole.
"This is not an easy place to get a lot of extra-base hits," Figgins said of Angel Stadium, noting the towering sixth-inning shot to right off the bat of Garret Anderson that fell harmlessly into Drew's glove Friday night. "Fenway might give up more home runs, but if you start thinking about the long ball, at least for us, you're getting away from what this offense really does best."
GAME 3: JUST THE FACTS
|Angels starter: LHP Joe Saunders|
|2008: 17-7, 3.41 ERA|
|2008 on road: 10-3, 2.55 ERA|
|2008 vs. Red Sox: 2-0, 3.38 ERA|
|Career vs. Red Sox: 4-0, 2.75 ERA|
|Career postseason: no appearances|
|Red Sox starter: RHP Josh Beckett|
|2008: 12-10, 4.03 ERA|
|2008 at home: 5-5, 5.65 ERA|
|2008 vs. Angels: 0-2, 7.43 ERA|
|Career vs. Angels: 2-2, 3.99 ERA|
|Career postseason: 6-2, 1.73 ERA (nine starts, one relief appearance)|
|Red Sox lead series, 2-0. Boston has beaten the Halos a record 11 consecutive times in the postseason, dating back to Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series.|
|Game 2: Red Sox 7, Angels 5|
|Did You Know? The Red Sox are 30-15 over the past six postseasons, good for a Major League-best .667 postseason winning percentage over that time.|
And what is that?
"We've scored a lot of runs by just getting a lot of guys on base, and you can do that without extra-base hits," Figgins said.
Getting runners on base hasn't been the problem, though. Driving them in has. The Angels went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position Friday and are 4-for-21 (.190) in such situations for the series, standing 20 baserunners in all.
"You just try to hit the ball hard, and if it goes out, great," Scioscia said. "We had a ton of baserunners tonight; we just didn't finish the job."
All four of the Halos' hits with runners in scoring position have been singles, though, and Teixeira, who has five singles and a walk in the series, conceded that his team could make things a lot easier on itself with a few timely doubles and homers.
"A single can be a big hit, too, but if you have guys at first and second, with the speed we have on this team, a double means two runs most of the time," he said. "A homer is three runs. So yeah, that's pretty obvious.
"We do a good job of getting on base. That's half the battle."
The other half is getting those runners home, and if the Angels don't do some banging Sunday, they'll be going home in the worst possible way.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.