John Lackey silenced Boston’s bats over 7 1/3 shutout frames and Torii Hunter hit a three-run home run, as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim began their American League Division Series with a 5-0 victory over Boston.
Lackey (1-0) was solid, if not spectacular, mowing down a potent Red Sox offense with ease. The right-hander scattered four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Hunter had the big hit and seven different Angels had hits.
“I felt pretty good in the bullpen. My arm felt good,” said Lackey. “My arm was alive tonight, and I had a breaking good fastball.”
Los Angeles hasn’t fared well in the postseason versus Boston, losing in the ALDS to the Red Sox in 2004, 2007, 2008. It had lost five straight home playoff games to the Red Sox before Thursday, and the victory was just its second win in the last 11 playoff meetings with Boston.
Game 1 began with a solid performance from Lackey and timely hitting against Jon Lester (0-1), who gave up three runs on four hits with an uncharacteristic four walks and five strikeouts over six frames. His walk of Bobby Abreu paved the way for Hunter’s moon shot in the fifth.
Boston had just one fewer error (3) than hits (4) in the contest. The Red Sox were last shut out in a postseason game during the 1995 season. They managed just three singles and walked just once in a game dominated by the Angels pitching staff.
“We gave them extra opportunities,” said Boston manager Terry Francona. “Hunter’s homer was huge because of the way Lackey was pitching. He had a lot of life on his fastball.”
Game 2 is Friday night at Angel Stadium.
The Angels threatened in the home third but Vladimir Guerrero struck out with the bases loaded. The home team finally got to Lester and took the lead in the fifth. Erick Aybar opened the frame with double down the left-field line before a sacrifice bunt from Chone Figgins and a walk to Abreu. Hunter then recognized a Lester mistake — a belt-high fastball down the middle — and deposited it on to the rock formation deep over the left-center-field wall for a 3-0 edge.
“Lester is one of the best lefties there is. I was lucky or blessed. He threw me a fastball down the middle and I capitalized on his mistake,” said Hunter.
The Red Sox put two men on base to no avail in the top of the sixth, then Jacoby Ellsbury ranged to his left to dive and stab a Figgins liner with a runner on second to end the bottom of that frame.
The Angels added some insurance in the seventh. Abreu, for the second time in a run-scoring frame, walked in front of Hunter, who was hit by a pitch to put two men on base with nobody out. Guerrero’s single past the pitcher loaded the bases before Juan Rivera’s double-play grounder plated a run. Kendry Morales’ soft liner to left plated another runner for a 5-0 advantage.
The game included a couple of controversial calls involving Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick and first base umpire CB Bucknor. The umpire called Kendrick safe on a ground ball to Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez in the fourth. Gonzalez’s throw was high but replays showed first baseman Kevin Youkilis came down and tagged Kendrick just before he hit the bag. Then in the sixth, Mike Lowell’s throw on a Kendrick grounder sailed high, but again Youkilis appeared to climb the ladder and come down with the ball on the bag well before Kendrick reached the base. Bucknor again called the runner safe, and Francona argued both calls to no avail…Abreu walked four times…Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz struck out three times.
— Via Sports Network