Angels send Saunders to face Boston

Angels send Saunders to face Boston

Joe Saunders is in for one intense homestand.

Saunders will kick off the Angels' three-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday and then be in charge to finish it off against the explosive Yankees on Sunday.

First things first, though, and that means a date with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, arguably the most lethal one-two punch in all of baseball.

"It should be fun. It's going to be a battle, but I'm looking forward to it," Saunders said.

The Angels enter a six-game stretch with the top two American League East teams sitting 4 1/2 games behind the A's in their own division. The Halos have won five of their past six contests.

The club took two of three games in Boston at the end of July, which started a run of 24 straight games without a break. The Angels more than held their own, going 14-10, which included not only a 10-game road trip, but also a limited bench as infielder Adam Kennedy and reliever Kevin Gregg each served four-game suspensions.

The start of that Red Sox series was the last time the Angels were in first place in the American League West, though, as they have lost five games to the A's since July 27.

Even though the A's -- who had won 14 of their past 17 games after play on Sunday -- might be streaking, the Angels say they can't worry about what their rivals are doing or what type of vaunted competition they are about to welcome into Angel Stadium.

"The opponent is academic," manager Mike Scioscia said. "If we get in our game and play baseball, we're a confident club and we can play with anybody. If we don't, you can play a Triple-A team and you're not going to win."

The Red Sox, whose pitching staff struggled in a five-game series against the Yankees, are desperately searching for victories.

Saunders will start after being knocked around by the Rangers in his last appearance. Easily his worst performance this season, the left-hander gave up seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings to see his ERA jump nearly two runs, to 3.64.

He complained of a fatigued arm after that start in Arlington, but after a bullpen session on Sunday said he was ready to begin his club's next run of crucial games.

"This next stretch is going to be huge for us," he said.

Wednesday's contest will pit Kelvim Escobar against Red Sox rookie Jon Lester. Escobar emerged victories in this same matchup when the Angels tagged Lester with his first Major League loss on July 28.

Jered Weaver will face struggling starter Josh Beckett in Thursday's series and finale between the teams. If Weaver can beat the Red Sox, who are one of only three teams to score more than two runs against him this year, he will become the first American League rookie to win the first 10 decisions of his career.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Kyle Snyder (3-2, 6.35 ERA)
Snyder, a Royal when the season began, is 2-2 with a 7.15 as a starter this season.

LAA: LHP Joe Saunders (4-1, 3.64 ERA)
Saunders has allowed only three earned runs in 21 innings at home this season (1.29 ERA).

Player to watch
Garret Anderson is hitting .318 at Angel Stadium this year, compared to .237 on the road.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KSPN 710 AM, KMXE 830 AM (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Red Sox (LHP Jon Lester, 6-2, 4.72) at Angels (RHP Kelvim Escobar, 9-10, 3.77), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 13-8, 5.35) at Angels (RHP Jered Weaver, 9-0, 1.95), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Friday: Yankees (RHP Mike Mussina, 13-5, 3.61 ERA) at Angels (RHP John Lackey, 10-9, 3.52), 7:05 p.m. PT

Greg Wagner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.