10/06/08 2:57 AM ET
Halos finally a big hit
Struggling Angels find clutch form at the plate
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
Their only extra-base hit in Anaheim was a ninth-inning triple by leadoff man Chone Figgins.
And while they banged out four extra-base hits, including two homers by Mike Napoli, in a 12-inning, season-saving, 5-4 victory at Fenway Park on Sunday night, to a man they suggested that people focusing on their power production are missing the point.
"This is not a team built around the home run," said manager Mike Scioscia. "We like to put pressure on teams with a lot of baserunners, and even though we haven't taken advantage of all the baserunners we've gotten ... we did when it mattered most."
That, of course, was a reference to previously hitless -- in the whole series, not just the game -- Erick Aybar's bloop single in the top of the 12th inning that scored Napoli from second base.
Contrast that to the Red Sox leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th. The one soft single by Aybar has turned the series into a series.
Get 'em over, get 'em ... in?
"They got the big hits tonight," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "We didn't. We had our chances, but they did a better job with theirs when it really mattered."
Finally, the Angels came through with a big hit with runners in scoring position. They're still just 7-for-35 in such situations for the series, but the Angels are banking on the premise that if you build up enough pressure, eventually something's going to break.
The Halos are hoping to break out with a flurry of runs in Game 4 on Monday, when they'll try to solve Jon Lester, who held them without an earned run over seven innings in Game 1.
"You know, Lester threw a terrific game in Game 1 and we'll have to do a little better job of pressuring him early and getting some guys on," Scioscia said. "Situational hitting is going to be important."
"We've had a lot of guys on base," said Figgins. "And we were a good-hitting team with runners in scoring position during the season, so you figure that sooner or later we'll get back to that."
The Angels, who went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position, stranded 16 runners on Sunday, pushing their total to an eye-popping 36 for the series.
"But that right there tells you how close we are," said Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. "That's a lot of guys on base, and we have a lot of good hitters in here, man. We keep putting guys on, we'll be fine."
The Red Sox went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position Sunday, leaving 11 on base.
"One big hit and we win the game," lamented Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "They got the big hit, they won the game."
Scioscia said the same pressure principles -- get enough hits of any kind and you'll eventually cash in -- apply to Boston's offense, but the Red Sox only had seven hits to the Halos' 16 on Sunday.
"They're a clutch team," Scioscia said. "You can't give them too many chances, either. ... But if we keep creating the kind of chances we're getting, I like our chances of breaking out as an offense."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.