|Feeble Los Angeles Angels go quietly in first-round playoff sweep by Boston Red Sox|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 07 October 2007 12:58|
You know, the ones who earned the AL West title with small-ball offense - hitting singles, drawing walks and running the bases with abandon. That team disappeared against Boston in the AL division series, losing 9-1 Sunday to close out a three-game sweep.
The first-round defeat was identical to 2004, when the Red Sox ushered the Angels out in three consecutive games on their way to winning the World Series.
Even coming back to California didn't help. The Angels' 54 home victories were the most in baseball this season, and they hit .305 in their home park during the regular season.
But they could not have gone more quietly against Boston, scoring just four runs in 27 innings. They were 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position.
Vladimir Guerrero failed to live up to his slugging reputation. He was 0-for-3 with a walk Sunday, and finished 2-for-10 in the series with no runs and no RBIs.
Of course, Boston's pitching had a lot to with the Angels' feeble offense.
Josh Beckett tossed a four-hit shutout in the opener. The Red Sox bullpen combined to hold the Angels hitless in Game 2 after they saw rookie starter Daisuke Matsuzaka for the first time ever.
Then Curt Schilling dissected the Angels with the kind of stuff he had been going over in his head for the last 12 days. Pitching in the postseason for the first time since 2004, the 40-year-old right-hander retired 10 of 11 batters during one stretch.
The third and seventh innings typified things for Los Angeles, which stranded eight runners.
The Angels loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but defensive replacement Reggie Willits popped up to the catcher in foul territory, ending the threat.
In the seventh, with the Rally Monkey hopping on the big screen, Maicer Izturis doubled to lead off and took third on Howie Kendrick's groundout. Designated hitter Juan Rivera followed and popped up to first base, slamming his bat in the dirt.
Then Schilling struck out Mike Napoli, ending the inning and silencing the plastic noisemakers that sounded a hopeful beat.
The Red Sox impersonated the Angels in the bottom of the seventh, charging around the bases and ringing up seven runs as many of the 45,262 fans streamed toward the exits.
Things started promisingly enough for the Angels.
Jered Weaver made his playoff debut by retiring the side, including striking out David Ortiz. After allowing runners on second and third in the second, the 25-year-old right-hander retired three straight - two on strikeouts.
Weaver retired the side in the third, notching his fifth strikeout. But he made two huge mistakes in the fourth, allowing back-to-back home runs to Ortiz and Manny Ramirez that deflated the anemic Angels.