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Chess Match: Vlad plays huge role

Chess Match: Vlad plays huge role

ANAHEIM -- Vladimir Guerrero is obviously a huge part of the Angels offense.

How manager Mike Scioscia used him on Friday night played a huge role in how the Angels were able to pull away to a 4-1 victory. Scioscia made two critical decisions on Guerrero that don't often come up when dealing with a cleanup hitter in a playoff game.

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Vlad: hit-and-run specialist
The situation:
The Angels trailed, 1-0, in the fourth with one out, Bobby Abreu on first and Guerrero at the plate against Red Sox starter Josh Beckett.


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The decision: Scioscia, trying to manufacture a run, had Abreu running on an 0-1 pitch to Guerrero, who bounced a single through the right side. Abreu went to third on the play.

The outcome: Kendry Morales brought home the Angels first run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

The analysis: "We've been getting on a little bit more, and putting some guys in motion. Tonight it paid off for us. When you're facing a good pitcher like Beckett, you're not going to rely solely on batter's box offense." -- Scioscia

Now running for Vlad ...
The situation:
Guerrero worked a leadoff walk in the seventh inning in a 1-1 game against Beckett.


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The decision: Scioscia, trying to get a lead, inserted infielder Howard Kendrick in as a pinch-runner. Kendrick, who shares second-base duties with Maicer Izturis, had 11 stolen bases during the regular season.

The outcome: Kendrick, after Morales flied to left, did steal second. Juan Rivera grounded out but Izturis lined a single up the middle to put the Angels ahead.

The analysis: "There's a lot of things to weigh right there. But I felt it was a great opportunity to at least get a guy in scoring position, maybe get a run there, and get a run up going into the eighth inning." -- Scioscia.

How far with Beckett?
The situation:
Izturis' single gave the Angels a 2-1 lead and Beckett appeared to be laboring. Veteran left-hander Billy Wagner was warming up in the bullpen for the Red Sox.


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The decision: Red Sox manager Terry Francona decided to stay with Beckett, who then hit Mike Napoli with a pitch, rather than bring in Wagner. Beckett hit Napoli with his 99th pitch of the night and 24th of the inning.

The outcome: Erick Aybar, who already had one hit off Beckett, slammed a two-run triple over the head of outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to chase home two runs.

The analysis: He's thrown a three-or-four hitter going into that inning. No, I didn't think he was tired. We had Wagner up for (Chone) Figgins, which we ended up going to anyway, but up to that point we were staying with Josh.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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