ANAHIEM -- With only one hit in nine at-bats in the series and coming off a .240 road trip, Angels second baseman Howard Kendrick took a seat on the bench on Saturday night against Boston, but he didn't plan to be idle.
"I've got a little work to do on my swing, but I know the problem, and I'm confident I can fix it," Kendrick said. "It's something I've been through before, just a little timing issue. I just have to get back to driving through the ball."
Kendrick is a .331 career hitter against the Red Sox. He came into Saturday tied for the American League lead with six homers, second in total bases with 47 and 10th in slugging (.566). He's torching lefties (.400) while struggling (.224) against right-handers.
No. 3 hitter Bobby Abreu also has been in a skid, ending an 0-for-15 dry spell with an RBI single on Friday night. Abreu was 1-for-20 on the road trip, but he led the AL in walks though Friday with 17.
"In Chicago, Bobby hit the ball hard without results," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had a home run taken away [by Juan Pierre] and lined out to center field a couple times. With three or four hits in there, things would look different [in his numbers]."
Angels leaning left against Dice-K
ANAHEIM -- With Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound for Boston on Saturday night, Angels manager Mike Scioscia elected to go with a different lineup look than the one he presented the Red Sox in losing the first two games of the series.
Right-handed hitters Howard Kendrick and Peter Bourjos were given the night off, with Erick Aybar elevated into the No. 2 spot in the order -- normally occupied by Kendrick -- between Maicer Izturis and Bobby Abreu.
Reggie Willits, a switch-hitter like Aybar, inherited Bourjos' lineup spot. Willits would be in left field with Vernon Wells moving over to his natural role in center. Torii Hunter took the designated hitter job with Abreu getting a start in right.
"Howie's played a lot and can use a blow," Scioscia said. "We'll give Peter a little time off in center field. They'll get back out there [in Sunday's series finale]. This gives us a good look against Matsuzaka. We want to get Reggie in there. It gives that lineup a left-handed look, also."
Willits' plate discipline -- few hitters see more pitches per at-bat than the man from Oklahoma -- also is a factor against Matsuzaka, who has a history of running up high pitch counts.
Aybar finds his groove quickly
ANAHEIM -- His absence for 14 games with a strained left oblique apparently did nothing to separate Erick Aybar from his batting stroke or eye.
The Angels' shortstop has been sizzling (4-for-8) against Boston since returning home to Angel Stadium after going hitless in his first game back in Texas.
"I'm feeling good," Aybar said. "I'm just happy to be back. I don't care where they put me in the lineup, as long as I'm in there somewhere."
Aybar was in the No. 2 spot, between Maicer Izturis and Bobby Abreu, against Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday night after collecting a pair of hits in each of the first two games of the series.
Four of Aybar's nine hits have been doubles, and he's batting .375 against both right-handers and southpaws.
Boston's grip not Scioscia's main concern
ANAHEIM -- There are some issues 20 games into the season that have Angels manager Mike Scioscia's attention -- most notably a .233 team batting average with runners in scoring position -- but Boston's hold on his team is not one of his major concerns.
The Red Sox, with wins in the first two games of the four-game series, have taken 11 of the past 12 head-to-head meetings since the Angels swept them in three games in the 2009 American League Division Series.
"They've played well against us and beaten us," Scioscia said. "Some games we haven't played to our potential. Some they've just come out and beat us. They've taken it to us this year and last year.
"I'm not going to worry about one team. Our focus is on getting better. There are a few things we need to clean up."
The Angels' .259 team batting average is fourth in the AL, but they're seventh in runs scored. This underscores the lack of consistent production with runners in scoring position.
The defense is tied for fourth in fielding percentage at .986 and has been brilliant in some areas. The emergence of Peter Bourjos as one of the game's premier talents in center alongside Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells has given the club an outfield with few, if any, equals.
The pitching staff's 3.01 ERA is surpassed only by the Athletics' 2.28 in the AL. Texas is third at 3.27 and Seattle (3.92) sixth, pointing out the overall strength of the AL West on the mound.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.