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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lackey's 1,000th K Only The Cherry: Angels 11, Red Sox 3

It's a good thing the Angels won, because the Cubbies lost 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth to a really weak Astros team that nevertheless got the better of the Northsiders' bullpen. Combine that with the day's other sad chores and an Angels win was just about mandatory to salvage this day.

Luckily, the Angels offense showed up against Clay Buchholz, whose brutal 5.70 ERA coming into the game actually got worse, to 5.88 afterwards. The Angels beat him up early and often, sending eight men to the plate in the first and would have gone more except for a lucky lineout (for them) by Howie Kendrick to short. After scaring Terry Francona to the point of getting a reliever warming up in the first inning, Buchholz settled down to post two scoreless frames in the second and third. After Manny Ramirez had managed to tie things up in the top of the fourth with a solo homer, he gave up a solo shot to Garret Anderson in the bottom of the frame. He really fell apart in the bottom of the fifth, when a two-out Alex Cora fielding error yielded a four-run Angels rally that booted Buchholz — all unearned, though charged to the Red Sox' starter.

Apparently unsatisfied with the five-run lead, the Angels got more in the sixth, with a Chone Figgins double and a one-out har-de-har-har "triple" from Maicer Izturis. Now, there's been some talk that Manny threw a pinch-hit at-bat in a July 6 game against the Yankees, failing to take the bat off his shoulders on three straight pitches from Mariano Rivera; supposedly, this was in retaliation to the front office calling him out publicly for allegedly assaulting the team's traveling secretary. There's been plenty of that kind of thing, so when we saw Maicer Izturis' routine single bounce at Manny's feet and roll a few feet away from him as he lay on the ground motionless, I had to wonder if this isn't part two of the same offensive. If it was, he certainly wasn't confessing to it:

“It’s not an error, but I think I made the bloopers for life,” Ramirez said. “I had a bad jump, but I still went for it. I missed the ball and that was it. I felt like I was swimming in a swamp right there.”
Garret Anderson knocked in a couple later in the inning, bringing his total to five, a most impressive number considering he was batting sixth. In fact, the only Angel who failed to get in on the offensive hijinks was Jeff Mathis, 0-for-4 and the only Angel without a hit.

Lackey's pitching got off to a good start with a clean first, but he gave up a two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis in the second and a solo shot to Manny in the fourth; he settled down thereafter, and the Angels' offense took over thereafter. Heck, even Justin Speier and Darren O'Day managed scoreless innings, and that despite Speier's second consecutive outing with a hit batter, Alex Cora to lead off the eighth with a 1-2 count, f'r crissakes. It all worked out in the end, and for the moment, the Angels have the best record in baseball.

Yahoo boxMLB.com recap

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