American League Leading Red Sox Host AL West Leading Angels Print
Saturday, 18 August 2007 08:30
MLB Headline News

Beantown Showdown

The acquisition of Eric Gagne last month was expected to bolster the Boston Red Sox's bullpen. After seven appearances, though, it appears the former NL Cy Young Award winner is unable to be the dominating pitcher he once was.

The Red Sox continue their four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, one night after Gagne's latest poor performance left Boston settling for a split of its day-night doubleheader against the AL West leaders.

Gagne set a National League record with 55 saves for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003 en route to winning the Cy Young Award. After saving 152 of 158 games from 2002-04, the right-hander's career was derailed by elbow and back surgeries that sidelined him for most of the next two seasons.

Gagne signed as a free agent with Texas in December, and converted 16 of 17 save chances. But with the Rangers out of the playoff hunt, they traded him to the Red Sox on July 31.

Boston scored four in the eighth inning of the second game off Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez to take a 5-4 lead, and Gagne entered in the ninth. With runners on the corners via a one-out walk and a single, Gagne then gave up an RBI single to Orlando Cabrera and a two-run double to Vladimir Guererro to propel the Angels to a 7-5 win.

"Same things that will make you laugh will make you cry,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "They turn right around and do it to us.''

Gagne, now 0-2 with a 15.00 ERA with the Red Sox, was unavailable for comment. In seven games with Boston, Gagne has yielded 10 runs in six innings after giving up eight in 33 1-3 with Texas

Boston won the opener, 8-4 behind six strong innings from Clay Buchholz in his major league debut. The Red Sox (73-49) still own the majors' best record, and have a 5 1/2-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

For the second time this month, Boston's Curt Schilling (6-5, 4.06 ERA) will square off against Los Angeles' Jered Weaver (8-5, 3.85).

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Boston -130 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -130 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

On Aug. 6, Schilling was tagged with the loss - his third in as many starts - in a 5-2 defeat after giving up four runs and nine hits over six innings. Weaver, meanwhile, gave up just two runs and six hits in six innings but didn't get a decision.

Schilling also didn't get a decision in his next start after the bullpen struggled. Against Baltimore on Sunday, the right-hander gave up one unearned run and five hits over six innings and left with a 3-1 lead. But Gagne gave up a game-tying homer to Miguel Tejada in the eighth, and Kyle Snyder lost it when Kevin Millar hit a three-run homer in the 10th.

Schilling refused to blame Gagne, and still expects him to be an integral part of the Red Sox's drive toward a playoff spot.

"It happens - this is the big leagues," Schilling told the Red Sox's official Web site. "Sometimes it just snowballs a little bit. But (Gagne's) going to be an essential part of us winning a World Series, if that happens. So you take it for what it's worth, and he'll be right back out there next time."

The 40-year-old Schilling hasn't won since June 7, and subsequently missed six weeks with shoulder tendinitis. He's alternated wins and losses in his last four starts versus the Angels since 2004, but is 4-2 with a 3.35 ERA in six career starts against them.

Guererro needs one homer off Schilling for the most in his career against any pitcher. The Angels' All-Star also has five homers off Brian J. Anderson and Jamie Moyer.

Weaver, meanwhile, will try to win on the road for the first time in more than two months.

On June 16, the right-hander got the win as the Angels defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 at Dodger Stadium. In three road starts since then, though, Weaver is 0-1 with a 5.50 ERA.

Weaver also will try to win back-to-back starts for the first time since winning a season-best three in a row from May 14-25. Facing Minnesota on Sunday, Weaver allowed two runs and five hits over 7 1-3 innings of the Angels' 6-2 win.

He's 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three career starts versus Boston.

Despite the second-most wins in the majors, the Angels are the only division leader with a losing road record at 31-33.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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