The Angels managed to steal a win in game three, their first post-season win against the Sox this century, but poor team defense and suspect managing led to their demise in game four. And the players are not too happy about another early playoff exit. The LA Times has the bitter quotes:
“We lost to a team that’s not better than us,” growled pitcher John Lackey, who gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings. “We are a better team than they are. The last two days, we shouldn’t have given up anything.”***
“[Sunday] night they scored three runs on a pop fly that was called a hit, which was a joke,” Lackey said, referring to Ellsbury’s pop that fell between center fielder Torii Hunter and second baseman Howie Kendrick in Game 3.”[Monday] night hey scored on a broken-bat ground ball and a fly ball that anywhere else in America is an out, and he’s fist-pumping on second base like he did something great.”Asked to describe his feelings, Lackey said, “Like I want to throw somebody through a wall.”***
“I’m not going to second-guess my manager,” Hunter said. “He made the decision, I’m going to stick by it. If he gets the bunt down and we score the run, everyone would love him. It’s hard to swallow. I’m disappointed it didn’t work out.”***
“I’m [ticked], I’m upset, this one’s going to be with me for a while,” Hunter said. “It doesn’t feel good, because we’re a better team than they are. But they’re moving on.”
A few things I take issue with:
The Angels a better team? A better regular season team – maybe. More wins in a weak division – definitely. But this isn’t football where one fluke win lets a weaker team move on. The Angels had every opportunity to win this series. Instead, they ran themselves out of it.
Lackey criticizing the Red Sox for “fist-pumping?” I seem to recall an Angel pitcher pumping his fist and screaming God-knows-what as he walked back to the dugout. And I think Torii Hunter looked pretty happy after getting the game-tying hit. And I think Napoli flipped his bat with a little extra gusto after a homer the other night. It’s called emotion, it happens. It happens more when you win in the playoffs, probably why Lackey and Hunter don’t recognize it.
Hunter supporting Scioscia’s squeeze call? This couldn’t have been more obvious if they put it on the Jumbotron or had a scantily-clad woman, like the one between rounds in a boxing match, carrying a sign across the infield reading “squeeze coming!” Everybody knew. Aybar is a pretty good hitter who doesn’t strike out much. With a 2-0 count the odds are pretty good he puts the ball in play and gets the run home. If not, Figgins (batting .333 in the series) gets a chance. This one’s on the most overrated manager in the AL.
But we’re not here to talk about the past. Red Sox versus Rays starting Friday night at 8:37. What could be better?