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The Baseball Notebook


July 26, 2010 7:13 AM

Red Sox & Angels Fight To Survive

Red Sox Angels.jpgThe Red Sox & Angels have met in the playoffs each of the last three years and four times in the last six. The rivalry amongst their cities extends strongly to the NBA. But even though the second-place team in the AL East and the winner of the AL West look on track to meet in the Division Series again this year, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that either of these teams will be a part of that. Starting tonight, the Sox & Angels begin a three-game series in Anaheim with each clinging for dear life.

LAA may in fact, already be finished. They lost three of four to in Texas to fall seven games back of the Rangers. The Halos were beaten at the top of the order in Sunday's finale. Texas' top three of Elvis Andrus, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler each had two hits and kept the table set for Josh Hamilton, who drove in three runs. Meanwhile, LAA's 1-2-3 of Erick Aybar, Macier Itzuris and Bobby Abreu went 0-for-10 with only two walks and meant that good days by Tori Hunter and Hideki Matsui in the middle didn't have major impact on the scoreboard in a 6-4 loss.

Boston meanwhile, continued to keep its bats and bullpen in hibernation in a 4-2 loss to Seattle. Daisake Matsuzaka pitched very well, going six innings and giving up one run. But the pen couldn't hold the 2-1 lead and Hideki Okajima was tagged with the loss. In 2007, Okajima was as dominant as Jonathan Papelbon as the Red Sox won the World Series. The last two years he's been respectable. This year his ERA is 5.81 and has to be emphasized that the bullpen bears as much responsibility as the disabled list for why the Sox are now five back of Tampa in the wild-card race and basically finished in the chase of the Yankees. The offense can legitimately say they're not playing with a full deck. The bullpen has had everyone healthy.

The Angels signaled they aren't ready to go quietly, as they went out and got Dan Haren, giving up Joe Saunders and two more pitching prospects to get him. I know I said in this blog just a couple days ago that Haren was a solid addition to any team. I still believe that but that was said in a vacuum, without an actual deal on the table. Looking at what we have, I think LAA overpaid. Saunders is pretty good, and will look even better when he starts facing National League lineups. Haren is better, but the improvement is marginal, and if either of the prospects pan out, this could be a boon for Arizona. I don't think this is a terrible trade that will haunt the Angels, but I suspect they paid more than what the product is worth.

It remains to be seen whether Haren will get a start in the Boston series, though I would guess he probably will. He's due to pitch anyway in this sequence and Saunders had been slated for Wednesday afternoon. The Angels' don't have time to lose. Neither do the Red Sox. These teams are still playing cutthroat elimination baseball with each other. Only now it's in July rather than October.

Elsewhere...

*J.A. Happ returned for Philadelphia and gave the Phils five respectable innings in his first start since April. The Phils swept the Rockies with a 4-3 win.

*Buster Posey had four hits to lead San Francisco to a sweep of Arizona. The Giants now lead the NL wild-card race by 1 ½ over Cincinnati.

*And I'm done talking about the Mets for a while, unless they're playing a legitimate contender. A 1-0 loss to the Dodgers completes a disastrous 1-10 road trip that has turned them from contender to longshot.

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