Last night’s game was a perfect example of Mike Scioscia’s 2006 Angels. It was well-pitched (though Saunders looked very shaky the first couple of innings, he managed 0 ER for his 5.2 innings). There was lots of running (they pulled off that double-steal so nonchalantly I wasn’t sure anything had happened). There was poor defense even from people who are fine defenders (GA, OCab, etc). They did not score a lot of runs, but their pitching (and a few good defensive plays) were enough to win. But not before the bullpen scared you (the normally superb Scot Shields had yet another of his recent meltdowns), and K-Rod always seems to flirt with disaster before giving you exactly what you want. That flyout by Manny had me holding my breath. I don’t get why Scioscia pulled Donnelly for Shields in order to pitch to Ortiz in the bottom of the 7th; they’re both righties, and Donnelly was whizzing right through. In all, it was an exciting ballgame for an Angels fan, as we desperately needed to take advantage of Oakland’s loss to trim their lead to 4.
As for the Red Sox, man did they look tired, which I can’t say I blame them for. Their starting pitcher looked scared, and rattled by the baserunners. Half the guys at the plate looked like they were nursing a hangover, which I guess they were.
I think the Red Sox missed an opportunity — so many LOB — but I’m not complaining. If they want to beat the Angels, the secret is to get to the back half of their bullpen, who are good for at least one run per inning pitched. By far the weakest players on the team are Hector Carrasco, JC Romero, Kevin Gregg, and whoever else they’ve got taking up space in there. None of those guys can keep it close if the Angels are down by a couple of runs. Shields and K-Rod about as good an 8-9 combo as they come, and Brendan Donnelly has mysteriously been throwing fine 7th-inning ball recently. Run up the pitch counts and get the starters out of there early, and you’ve got a good shot. However, be prepared for the Halos to score big in at least one of the next two games. I can feel it coming.