Following the Rangers' loss last night, the Red Sox now lead the wild card by 5 1/2 games and their magic number is down to 14.
7:10 p.m. ET (NESN), Sept. 16, 2009
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
Red Sox (86-58, 2nd place in AL East)
Angels (86-58, 1st place in AL West)
The Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka passed a very big test Tuesday night. Returning from almost three months on the disabled list, Matsuzaka tossed a gem at the Angels, holding them hitless into the fifth inning. He did not give up a run in his six innings as the Sox beat the Angels, 4-1, to open the three-game series.
While the Angels still have an advantage in the season series, 4-3, the Sox held their potent lineup in check Tuesday. The Angels have lost two in a row while the Sox are riding a six-game winning streak and have yet to lose on the eight-game homestand.
This set is a likely preview of the ALDS, where the Red Sox and Angels have met in three of the last five postseasons, with the Sox bouncing the Angels from the playoffs each time.
|Chone Figgins, 3B||Jacoby Ellsbury, CF|
|Erick Aybar, SS||Dustin Pedroia, 2B|
|Bobby Abreu, RF||Jason Bay, LF|
|Vladimir Guerrero, DH||Mike Lowell, 3B|
|Torii Hunter, CF||David Ortiz, DH|
|Kendry Morales, 1B||Rocco Baldelli, RF|
|Howie Kendrick, 2B||Jason Varitek, C|
|Juan Rivera, LF||Casey Kotchman, 1B|
|Mike Napoli, C||Alex Gonzalez, SS|
RHP Paul Byrd (1-1, 6.08 ERA) vs. LHP Joe Saunders (13-7, 4.81 ERA)
Byrd did not get a decision in his last start, Sept. 9 facing the Orioles at Fenway. He pitched five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks with one strikeout, and left with a lead.
In nine career starts against the Angels he is 4-1 with a 4.94 ERA, allowing 30 earned runs in 54 2/3 innings. Each of his last five starts against the Angels have been at Angel Stadium, going 2-2 with a 5.88 ERA (17 earned runs, 26 innings). This is his first start against the Angels since July 21, 2008, while with the Indians. In that game he went 5 1/3 innings, giving up one run in Cleveland’s win.
Saunders is 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA (five earned runs, 24 1/3 innings) since returning from the DL Aug. 26. He has won four straight starts and five of six. The Angels are 40-18 in his last 58 starts. This is his eighth career starts against the Red Sox and his second this season. He is 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA (16 earned runs, 44 1/3 innings) in his career against the Red Sox. This season he is 0-1, allowing four earned runs in seven innings.
The Red Sox have an nine-game home winning streak and have won 11 of 13, and 22 of 29 at home since July 10.
Tuesday’s outing marked Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first scoreless outing and his lowest hit total in a game since allowing two hits over seven innings for the win at Toronto on Sept. 21, 2008.
Red Sox pitchers have combined for an ERA of 0.84 (three earned runs in 32 innings) over the team’s last four games, holding opponents to one run or fewer in each of those four games and five of their last six.
Red Sox starting pitchers are 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA during the team’s six-game win streak.
David Ortiz hit his 24th home run of the season, and the 270th of his career as a designated hitter, passing Frank Thomas for the most all-time as a DH.
Dustin Pedroia has a seven-game hitting streak, batting .385 (10-for-26) with two doubles, three home runs, six RBI and five runs scored.
Jacoby Ellsbury recorded his team-high 35th multi-hit game of the season Tuesday, and is batting .342 (26-for-76) in his last 10 games with nine multi-hit games in that span.
The Angels will play 12 of their final 18 games against the three top teams in the AL — Red Sox (two games), Yankees (three games), and Rangers (seven games).
The Angels loss Tuesday snapped their five-game winning streak at Fenway, dating back to April 23, 2008.
Angels starting pitchers have a 1.91 ERA (25 earned runs, 117 2/3 innings) over their last 17 games.
Torii Hunter’s ninth-inning double extended his hitting streak to 11 games in which he is batting .341 (15-for-44) with two home runs and eight RBI.
John Lackey took his first loss since Aug. 25 against the Tigers. The two runs he allowed in the sixth inning snapped a streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings.
The Angels have outscored the Red Sox 74-46 over their last 13 regular season games and have won 12 of their last 15 games.
The Angels have used 14 different starting pitchers this season, three shy of the team record set in 1967, and 23 of the 35 players on the current roster are products of the Angels’ farm system, including four of five starting pitchers and all four catchers.
Pitcher Kelvim Escobar has been on the DL since June 7 with right shoulder irritation.
Pitcher Dustin Moseley has been on the DL since April 18 with tightness in his right forearm.
Pitcher Scot Shields has been on the DL since May 27 after left knee patella surgery.
In 1965, Sox pitcher Dave Morehead, who would go on to lead the league in losses with 18, no-hit the Indians at Fenway Park. The Sox also fired general manager Mike ‘Pinky’ Higgins that day.
“It was a great swing. I thought the ball hit to left field even though he didn’t lean all over it. He stayed inside it real well and when he does that, regardless of whether the guy catches the ball or not, that still shows that he has some balance and he’s OK. It makes him a lot more dangerous like he showed in his last at-bat.”
— Terry Francona on David Ortiz’s eighth-inning home run
Matsuzaka threw a gem at the Angels.
Red Sox fans are just as passionate as in 2004, but without the angst.
Jered Weaver has been the glue of the Angels rotation.
Can Paul Byrd duplicate Daisuke Matsuzaka’s gem? It’s a tall order, but few expected the stellar outing Dice-K gave the Sox. With Kevin Youkilis likely to be back, and possibly Victor Martinez, the Red Sox’ lineup should have more fire than the lineup that defeated the Angels on Tuesday.
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