10/09/09 2:12 AM EST
Chess match: All about Lackey
Angels' ace dominates Sox in workmanlike opener
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Angels manager Mike Scioscia's main focus was getting Lackey some runs. Red Sox manager Terry Francona was frustrated with both his team and some umpire calls.Both managers had to make key decisions on when they had to take out their starting pitcher.
The situation: In a scoreless game, Angels' No. 9 hitter Erick Aybar led off the fifth inning with a double against Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, bringing All-Star third baseman Chone Figgins to the plate.
The decision: Figgins hit .333 with runners in scoring position during the regular season. He also had eight sacrifice bunts. Scioscia had Figgins bunt and he got the job done, dropping one back toward Lester that moved Aybar to third.
The outcome: Lester, in a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup, then walked Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter followed with his three-run home run.
The analysis: "Early runs are going to be important in this series. They definitely have a bullpen that can shut a team down. I think where the game was to get up 1-0 was going to be important at that point. So we wanted to try and get in a position to at least get on top there." -- Scioscia
Thank you, Mr. Lackey
The situation: Angels starter John Lackey had thrown 114 pitches after J.D. Drew led off the eighth with a single and, after a wild pitch, pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman grounded out to third.
The outcome: Oliver retired Ellsbury on a grounder to third and Dustin Pedroia on a line drive to second baseman Howard Kendrick to end the inning. Oliver then closed out the shutout by retiring the Angels in order in the ninth.
The analysis: "John made pitches and that's a long way to pitch against that lineup to get us 22 outs like that." -- Scioscia
Lester out; Ramirez rattled
The situation: Francona removed Jon Lester after six innings and 100 pitches. He brought in right-hander Ramon Ramirez to face Abreu, Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero and keep the game close.
The outcome: Ramirez seemed to get rattled. He walked Abreu and hit Hunter with a pitch. Guerrero followed with a high chopper back to the mound that Ramirez first knocked down and then fumbled as he rushed to pick it up. Guerrero was safe on an infield hit. Saito then took and got Juan Rivera on an unusual third-to-home-to-third double play but Kendry Morales drove home a run with a single and another scored on Jason Bay's throwing error.
The analysis: "I thought he looked a little amped up. He walked Bobby, which can happen. Hits Torii. And then we get the groundball. He looked a little overexcited. Hopefully, next time he'll be a little better." . -- Francona
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.