Guerrero good to go for Game 3
Angels slugger OK after being hit by pitch in Game 2 loss
ANAHEIM -- When Vladimir Guerrero left Friday night's game after being drilled below his left shoulder blade by a Manny Delcarmen fastball, the Angels were left with a huge question mark in the heart of their order and, after Manny Ramirez's walk-off homer, an 0-2 deficit.
On Saturday, after enduring a devastating ninth-inning loss -- and a six-hour flight from Boston -- manager Mike Scioscia answered the question about Guerrero when he announced that all the tests taken came back normal.
Scioscia said his star slugger, who led the team in doubles (45), home runs (27) and RBIs (125), would be in the lineup for Sunday's pivotal Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
"Everything came back normal. It's just a contusion," Scioscia said. "He was in this morning for treatment, and it definitely looks like he's going to be able to play tomorrow."
The news of Guerrero's availability provides a tremendous boost for a team that is at the brink of elimination. With Garret Anderson battling through an eye infection and Gary Matthews Jr. out for the series, Guerrero's presence in the lineup is crucial.
Now the question is whether Guerrero will be able to play in the outfield to allow Scioscia some depth in the lineup. Guerrero, who returned to right field for the first time in nearly a month on Friday, is important in the lineup, but more so if he can play right field and free the designated hitter spot for either Juan Rivera or Kendry Morales.
Scioscia, who used Morales as the DH on Friday, said that the lineup he used in Game 2 was as deep as he can get right now. Obviously for the Angels, a healthy Guerrero in right field gives the team more options offensively, but it also improves Guerrero's production at the plate. In 41 games as a DH this season, Guerrero hit .270 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs; in 109 games in right field, Guerrero batted .345 with 17 homers and 89 RBIs.
"Obviously, we talked about if Vlad could play in the outfield, it gives us some options to make our lineup a little deeper," Scioscia said. "If he can't, we'll adjust and we'll get into some other things we can do offensively. We'll make that determination tomorrow morning."
The positive news regarding Guerrero's health answers one question going into Sunday's game, but how the Angels will respond to the disappointing end of Game 2 remains to be seen.
The homer that put a jolt in the Boston faithful and put the Angels in an 0-2 hole was compounded by a long cross-country flight in the middle of the night. According to catcher Mike Napoli, the loss is an afterthought, and the team is ready to move forward.
"We had a day off today," he said. "I mean, last night was a tough loss. We just have to forget about that. We got to win three straight and we can't lose anymore. You can't really look back into the games, you got to move forward and just keep going."
The Angels have been down 0-2 before, most recently in 2004, when the Red Sox did exactly what they've done this postseason. Except in 2004, the Red Sox came to Anaheim and won the first two games before ousting the Angels in extra innings on a David Ortiz walk-off homer in Game 3 at Fenway Park.
Scioscia isn't dwelling on Ramirez's blast, or the Angels' past. The skipper has his team set on winning Sunday's game and looking forward from there.
"We're upbeat. We're ready to go," Scioscia said. "We're a good club not playing as well as we can right now in these first two games. But if it clicks in, and it needs to click in, we can get on a run and get back into this series and hopefully win this series."
Don't hold your breath, though. Since 1916, the Red Sox have taken a 2-0 lead six times in a postseason series, and three of those times, they have won Game 3. In ALDS play, a team has taken a 2-0 lead 15 times, and on only four occasions entering this season has the team with the lead dropped the next three games. It's pretty fair to say the Angels have a mighty obstacle to overcome.
But according to second basemen Howie Kendrick, the task at hand is manageable.
"I feel like we could come in here blazing and even this series, come back and tie this thing up, and then we'd head back to their place," said Kendrick, who was 1-for-4 in Friday's game. "If we do those things tomorrow and continue to play our game, we'll have success, and I think we can bring this series back."
Jayson Addcox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.