After Sweep of Angels, Red Sox Pitching Living up to High Expectations

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After Sweep of Angels, Red Sox Pitching Living up to High Expectations Before the Red Sox completed their first three-game sweep in Anaheim since 1998, we looked at three keys to their success against the Angels.

We cited the struggling offense, which showed some signs of emerging from a month-long slump with 17 runs in the series. Marco Scutaro‘s grand slam in the eighth inning of the finale may kick off a nice little run, especially with a return to friendly Fenway Park on the horizon.

Victor Martinez
returned and had an RBI single in his first at-bat since coming off the DL, a promising development we said could provide a spark.

The Angels, who suffered a four-game sweep at Fenway Park in May and were supposed to have designs on payback, continued to sink like a stone.

Here are three other aspects of the series in Anaheim that stood out.

Starting to Come Around
Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Josh Beckett each lasted at least seven innings in continuing the starting rotation’s best stretch of the season. The trio combined to give up just six runs in 21 1/3 innings while striking out 16 and issuing only three walks.

The rotation put together quality starts in six of the last seven games of the road trip. The seventh start in that run was Beckett’s last Friday, when he allowed a run in 5 2/3 innings, just one out shy of earning quality start status.

That’s just splitting hairs. The bottom line is that the rotation is healthy and on a roll.

Waiting on Jacoby
J.D. Drew missed the last two games of the series with a sore left hamstring and Mike Cameron was given a scheduled day off in the finale. The Red Sox’ outfield remains a makeshift unit, and if Drew misses any significant amount of time, the need for Jacoby Ellsbury to return becomes even more important.

Wednesday featured Jeremy Hermida in left, Eric Patterson in center and Darnell McDonald in right.

The outfield as a whole went 6-for-35 (.171) in the series.

Bye Bye, Angels
The Sox entered the series with a handful of teams behind them in pursuit of the wild card-leading Tampa Bay Rays. You can count the Angels among those no longer in contention.

Following the sweep, Los Angeles saw itself a full 14 games behind the Rays in the loss column. With 10 games remaining against the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, the Angels have a last-ditch effort to remain in that division’s race. But they will not present any more issues for Boston, which is 7-0 against Mike Scioscia’s bunch.

The Sox now have a chance to all but eliminate Detroit from wild-card contention when the two clubs meet for three games starting Friday in Fenway Park.

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