|Banged-up Angels limp back home trailing Boston 2-0|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 06 October 2007 14:56|
Down 2-0 in their best-of-five AL playoff series with Boston, the banged-up Los Angeles Angels are back home, where their 54-27 record was the best in baseball this season.
They'll welcome the boost from a sellout crowd waving stuffed simians, especially because Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson are hurting entering Game 3 on Sunday against Curt Schilling and the Red Sox.
Guerrero left Friday night's 6-3 loss in the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch on his left shoulder. The slugger had X-rays, which were negative, and was expected to play Sunday.
``It's on his left side, so it shouldn't affect his throwing,'' manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday, though he hadn't yet decided whether Guerrero would start in right field or as the designated hitter.
``The only thing we would want to make sure and check tomorrow is his ability to have the range of his left arm in the outfield to make the plays. Obviously, if Vlad can play the outfield, it gives us some options to make our lineup a little deeper,'' he added.
The Angels already are without center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., left off the division series roster after missing 14 games in September with a sprained left ankle and an irritated right knee.
Left fielder Garret Anderson has been playing with conjunctivitis in his swollen right eye.
The Angels' pain extended off the field to trainer Rick Smith and pitching coach Mike Butcher.
Smith was sitting in the dugout Friday night when Casey Kotchman's foul line drive struck him in the ribs. X-rays were negative, and Smith was still sore Saturday.
Butcher had to be taken off the Angels' plane in Boston because he was sweating profusely and feeling nauseous. Butcher stayed overnight at a Boston hospital, where his viral symptoms improved enough for him to fly home Saturday. He will be on the bench for Game 3, a team spokesman said.
Other than tinkering with the batting order, Scioscia said he planned no major changes as the Angels try to stave off elimination.
To do so, first they'll have to beat Schilling, a big-game star who hasn't pitched in the postseason since 2004, when his bloody sock became legend.
Schilling was hampered by an injured ankle in the AL championship series against the New York Yankees that year. Team doctors stitched a tendon in his right ankle to keep it from flopping around, and he returned to lead the Red Sox to a Game 6 win that tied the series 3-all. The Red Sox went on to win Game 7, then the World Series against St. Louis for their first title since 1918.
``In October, you can make one play, one pitch, you can do one thing that people will never forget,'' Schilling said.
The right-hander wasn't used in the 2005 playoffs and Boston didn't make the postseason last year. He is 8-2 with a 2.06 ERA in 15 career postseason starts.
``It seems like it's been a very long time since I've been able to take a ball in a game like this,'' Schilling said. ``It's exciting. Very nervous. But it's exciting.''
If the 40-year-old Schilling admitted nerves, imagine what Angels starter Jered Weaver must be feeling. The 25-year-old right-hander who grew up in Southern California will make his postseason debut Sunday in front of family and friends.
``I'm going to try not to treat it any different than any other game,'' he said. ``I'm going to go out the same way, try to keep my heart in my shirt and try to keep myself composed.''
The last time Weaver faced the Red Sox he gave up a grand slam to David Ortiz, and Boston won 10-5 at home on Aug. 18. Schilling got his first win in two months in that game.
``He's a big-game pitcher. This situation is not new for him,'' Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell said. ``It's better that he's on our side. We're confident when he's on the mound.''
Schilling has had 11 days to think about how he wants to pitch to an Angels team that hit .305 at home - tops in the majors.
``You can give me an at-bat, a pitch, a situation, and I can tell you what I'm going to throw right now,'' he said. ``I've taken care of everything but the execution part of it.''
The Angels didn't work out Saturday after arriving from Boston at 6 a.m. Scioscia and Weaver made it to the ballpark, but the rest of the team stayed home.
The Red Sox arrived in town around the same time and had an optional workout. More than half the team showed up, including Manny Ramirez about 12 hours after his two-out, ninth-inning homer off closer Francisco Rodriguez.
But that moment was just about forgotten.
``We're really good at trying to stay in the moment and trying to play the game at hand,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said. ``Start thinking about things that happened last week or next week, it doesn't really help.''
The AL West champion Angels had plenty of time on the plane to consider the possibility that their season is nearly over. Infielder Howie Kendrick rejected the idea.
``I feel like we could come in here blazing and come back and tie this thing up. Then we'd head back to their place,'' he said by phone. ``We can bring this series back.''