Pitching the key to Angels' win
Oct. 10: The Angels credit their 2-0 series lead over the Red Sox to strong pitching, with Jered Weaver earning the most recent win.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The lack of offense from David Ortiz to start the season has returned to haunt him in the playoffs. His Boston Red Sox teammates are looking just as punchless.
And it’s proving costly, with Boston facing elimination after losing 4-1 to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
The club that has owned the Angels in the playoffs most of this decade heads east trailing 0-2 in the best-of-5 AL series. Game 3 is Sunday at Fenway Park.
“We’re walking a dangerous line here,” said third baseman Mike Lowell, who was hitless in four at-bats. “We’ve got to swing the bats much better. We’ve run into good pitching, but we’ve had chances to put some good at-bats together. I don’t think our game plan is wrong, we’re just not executing.”
Ortiz went 0 for 4 Friday, extending his hitless streak to 0 for 8 in these playoffs. With Boston clinging to a 1-0 lead, he stranded a runner when he struck out swinging to end the fourth inning.
He feebly popped to left field with a runner on second for Boston’s second out in the ninth. The Red Sox left six runners on base in the game, and totaled four hits and a run in the two games in Anaheim.
“Guys have been pitching a hell of a game,” Ortiz said, referring to starters John Lackey and Jered Weaver. “We need to find a way to get on base.”
Kevin Youkilis went 1 for 4 hitting in front of Ortiz, while Jason Bay was 0 for 2 with a strikeout and two walks hitting behind him Friday.
“I’d tell you what I’m doing wrong, but I can’t put a finger on it,” Youkilis said.
Ortiz arrived at Angel Stadium riding a seven-game hitting streak in the postseason since 2002.
Big Papi had come around after driving in just 18 runs through his first 47 games of the regular season, finishing with 99 RBIs to barely miss his sixth career 100-RBI season. Ortiz slugged 28 home runs — his most since hitting 35 two years ago — but his first one didn’t come until May 20 against Toronto. It was his first homer since Sept. 22, 2008, a career-high span of 149 at-bats without a long ball.
As Ortiz struggled against the Angels, so did his teammates.
They managed just four hits, including two off Weaver, on Friday. Boston advanced only two runners past first base. Jacoby Ellsbury tripled to lead off the fourth and scored on Victor Martinez’s single for the team’s lone run.
“Weaver wasn’t letting us drive the ball,” Ortiz said. “He was using all his pitches and trying to stay off the plate. We want to see some pitches to hit.”
The Red Sox narrowly avoided their second consecutive postseason shutout. Their 5-0 loss in Game 1 was their first playoff shutout since a 4-0 defeat at Cleveland in Game 2 of the 1995 division series.
On Thursday, the Red Sox had six baserunners but none made it as far as third base.
“These guys are pretty big pitchers. They’re not just throwing balls underhand out there and we’re failing to whack,” Bay said.
Boston has beaten Los Angeles three times in the division series in the last five seasons. The Red Sox won in four games last year after sweeping the Angels in 2004 and 2007 en route to winning the World Series.
“Let’s go home and keep on playing,” Ortiz said. “We’ve been playing better all year at home.”
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