Red Sox-Angels Preview
After winning in Boston last week, the Angels look to sweep the season series from the Red Sox for the first time Thursday night in Anaheim.
Los Angeles (68-62) has plated 42 runs while batting .351 in winning the first five meetings with Boston (62-69). The Angels, who swept their series at Fenway Park from Aug. 21-23, jumped out to a 9-1 lead after three innings Wednesday and cruised to a 10-3 victory to pull within 3 1/2 games of Baltimore for the AL's second wild-card spot.
"That's the only chance we have, is to get hot,'' said C.J. Wilson, who snapped his 11-start winless skid Wednesday. "We have to come from behind and beat everybody in front of us.''
Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer in the first inning, while Torii Hunter was one of five Angels with a multihit game, finishing 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Hunter is batting .389 with seven RBIs in the last four against Boston, and is 5 for 12 with a pair of doubles lifetime against scheduled starter Jon Lester (8-10, 4.98 ERA).
Howie Kendrick has hit safely in all five games against the Red Sox, and 15 in a row overall since Aug. 12, batting .356 with six doubles and eight RBIs.
Although Boston's starting pitchers have a 10.17 ERA against Los Angeles, Lester may be able to bring that number down.
Lester has a 2.25 ERA in winning a season-high three straight starts after going 0-5 with a 7.49 ERA in his previous seven.
"Winning cures everything,'' the left-hander said after allowing three runs and six hits in seven innings in Friday's 4-3 victory over Kansas City. "I've been feeling good with the adjustments that we've made.''
Lester went out to pitch the eighth Friday, but after throwing three pitches - all balls - he exited with a cramp in his left hamstring. That injury isn't believed to affect this start.
Lester, though, is hopeful he can carry over his prior success against Los Angeles. This will be his first outing of the season versus the Angels, against whom he has a 0.86 ERA in winning his last three.
Just like Lester is starting to accumulate wins like most figured he would prior to the season, Zack Greinke pitched the way the Angels envisioned when they acquired him before the non-waiver trade deadline his last time out.
Greinke was solid in his Angels debut, yielding two runs over seven innings, but followed that up by posting a 7.20 ERA in his next four - permitting at least four earned runs in four straight starts for the first time in his nine-year career.
That wasn't quite what the Angels were banking on when they acquired the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner from Milwaukee, but he came through with a strong performance in Detroit on Friday, permitting one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory. The right-hander struck out five and walked two.
"That's the kind of game we need him to give us when he gets the ball," Mike Scioscia said.
Greinke has historically pitched well against the Red Sox, losers of seven of 10, posting a 2.10 ERA in his last four starts, with his last one coming in 2010.
Dustin Pedroia, who has batted .358 while hitting safely in 22 of 23 games, is 2 for 9 lifetime against Greinke.