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K-Rod can't keep Angels from brink
K-Rod can't keep Angels from brink
By Lyle Spencer
ANAHEIM -- Remember the 2001 Yankees!
It might not have quite the same ring as "Remember the Alamo," but it's something the Angels might want to embrace as their mantra as they head to Boston one defeat away from being swept into the offseason for the second year in a row by the rampaging Red Sox.
J.D. Drew launched a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning against saves master Francisco Rodriguez on Friday night at Angel Stadium, sending the Red Sox home with firm command of the American League Division Series after a pulsating 7-5 triumph in Game 2.
Only once since the advent of the best-of-five Division Series playoff round has a team lost the first two games of a series at home and come back to take three in a row. The 2001 Yankees did it to the A's. Four other teams have come back from 2-0 deficits to advance to the Championship Series, most recently the 2003 Red Sox against the A's.
So here stand the Angels, riding a nine-game postseason losing streak and one defeat away from watching the most successful regular season in franchise history end in yet another three-game sweep.
The Red Sox, who won Game 1, 4-1, and have led for all but three innings of the series, can clinch another trip to the ALCS with a win in Game 3 at Fenway Park on Sunday night.
"We've got to do something special," said Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira, who had three singles and a walk, scored three times and drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly after Chone Figgins' dramatic triple led off the eighth inning. "There have been plenty of teams who have come back from 2-0 deficits. We have to win three games in a row. We've had a lot of three-game winning streaks against good teams.
With their 7-5 win in Game 2, the Red Sox set the all-time mark for consecutive postseason wins against one team at 11.
"It'll be tough, but we've done it. My first game as an Angel [after a July 29 trade involving the Braves] was a pretty good one at Fenway against Josh Beckett. I believe Joe Saunders started it, too."
Beckett and Saunders are set to hook up in Game 3. It was Saunders taking the measure of Beckett, 9-2, in Teixeira's Angels debut on July 30, wrapping up a three-game sweep by the Angels at the Fens, where the Halos won five of six this year.
But this is October, of course, and every New England school kid knows by now that the Sox haven't lost to the Angels in postseason play since 1986, having claimed a record 11 games in a row.
A look at some of the streaks and statistical oddities brought to light from the Red Sox's 7-5 win over the Angels in Game 2 of the ALDS.
Jason Bay became the first Red Sox player in history to homer in each of his first two postseason games and the 14th player in Major League history, joining Matt Holliday, who did it last season with the Rockies.
David Ortiz's single in the first inning extended his Division Series hit streak to 13 consecutive games and moved him into a tie for second place in Division Series history.
Jonathan Papelbon has worked 17 scoreless innings in 11 career playoff appearances, and only Joe Neikro with 20 innings without a run has more. Papelbon retired all six batters he faced in Game 2, and now the entire Angels ALDS roster is just 2-for-48 against him.
The Red Sox have won 11 consecutive postseason games against the Angels, breaking the Major League record.
Dating to the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series, the Angels have led in just seven of the past 94 playoff innings against the Red Sox.
The bottom four batters in the Angels' lineup were 1-for-15 in Game 2 and stranded 17 runners on base.
The four-run deficit the Angels overcame matched a season high, but unlike in like the previous three instances this season, the Halos lost.
Torii Hunter has driven in three of the Angels' six runs this postseason and has hit safely in nine of his past 10 postseason games, batting .400 (16-for-40).
Mark Teixeira has had multihit efforts in his first two postseason games and has reached base safely in six of his eight plate appearances in the series.
Vladimir Guerrero is 5-for-8 this series after batting 3-for-30 over his previous eight playoff games. But all five of his hits this series are singles.
Chone Figgins' triple to lead off the eighth inning was the Angels' first extra-base hit of the series, as the first 19 hits were singles.
The Angels are batting .190 (4-for-21) with runners in scoring position during the series.
The Angels have lost nine straight playoff games, while the Red Sox have won nine consecutive playoff games to set a club record.
Francisco Rodriguez took the loss in Game 2 by allowing a two-run home run to J.D. Drew in the ninth inning, and he also blew Game 2 of the ALDS last year, giving up a three-run walk-off homer to Manny Ramirez.
"We go into Boston, win a game, and the pressure is back on them," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I thought we did a good job tonight. We did a lot of things well. Unfortunately, they hit a couple of long balls that ended up being the difference in the game. We played well in their park all year, and we have to do it now."
The Angels won more road games -- 50 -- than any club in the Majors this season, and they were 5-1 at Fenway Park.
"We don't want to try to win three games all at once," Teixeira said. "We need to play good defense behind Joe, score some runs and see where it takes us. We play very well with a lead, and that's what we're trying to do."
K-Rod recorded a record 62 saves in the ninth inning this season, but on this dire occasion, he entered in the eighth -- something he hadn't been asked to do all year.
Retiring Dustin Pedroia to leave a runner in scoring position, Rodriguez watched Figgins bring the crowd to its feet when he lashed a triple to the right-center-field gap against Red Sox reliever Justin Masterson.
When Teixeira lifted his scoring fly ball to center off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, the Angels had finally drawn even after an uphill climb from the get-go.
Jason Bay's three-run homer against Ervin Santana in the first inning, which followed Drew's RBI double, had Boston cruising early, 4-0.
"We didn't quit," Figgins said. "We kept coming back, trying to make things happen."
The euphoria of Figgins' tying run didn't last long, however.
David Ortiz opened the ninth inning with a double off the wall in right and was replaced by pinch-runner Coco Crisp. The Angels felt they had Crisp picked off, but he was ruled safe.
Drew then unloaded a thigh-high changeup to dead center field, the booming homer drawing scattered cheers from the Red Sox nationalists in the crowd of 45,354.
The Angels went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, Papelbon slamming the door to claim the win.
Even as they were pecking away against Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka -- managing one run against him in the first, fourth and fifth innings -- the Angels were frustrating themselves by leaving runners stranded -- two in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings.
Working counts and stringing together baserunners, getting into the opposing bullpen in the sixth inning because of Matsuzaka's high pitch count, the Angels were trying to beat the Red Sox at their own game.
They moved to within a run of the lead in the seventh inning on a run-scoring walk by Mike Napoli against Masterson. The free pass came around strikeouts by Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar, who left the bases loaded. Striking out four times, Kendrick experienced an especially difficult night.
Did You Know? The Red Sox are 30-15 over the past six postseasons, good for a Major League-best .667 postseason winning percentage over that time.
The Angels' No. 3-4-5 hitters -- Teixeira, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter -- combined for eight hits and two walks. All 19 of the Angels' hits in the series had been singles before Figgins' triple.
"I don't want to play the 'We're unlucky' card," Teixeira said, "but we've hit a lot of balls hard that didn't hit any gaps or lines.
"They hurt us with the big hit, and when they needed big outs, they got them."
Facing Bay, who had lifted a John Lackey fastball out of the park for the big blow of Game 1, Santana went with nothing but sliders. The fifth one, on a 2-2 count, got up in the zone, and Bay launched it deep over the wall in center.
Singles by Teixeira, Guerrero and Hunter produced a run in the first inning, and Anderson went to the left-field railing in the second inning to take a potential two-run homer away from Pedroia.
After two-out singles by Teixeira and Guerrero in the third, Hunter was called out on a close play at first on a slow roller to shortstop Alex Cora. Spinning in the air in protest, Hunter came down awkwardly on his left knee and went to the ground in pain. He was able to stay in the game, but the inning was over.
"It's a little sore," Hunter said, "but I'm a gamer. I'll be out there. Adrenaline is my painkiller. It was my adrenaline on my part when I got upset there, because I thought I was safe. I'm upset now because we lost.
"Big bombs killed us tonight, but I think we've got some fight left."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.