ANAHEIM, Calif. — Needing to salvage a home-field split in order to avoid facing an elimination game back in Boston Sunday night, Angels manager Mike Scioscia seemed to send his team an urgent message when he was asked about the Sox postseason dominance over the Angels.
The Angels, who went 8-1 vs. the Sox during the regular-season, have lost 10 consecutive playoff games against Boston, dating back to the 1986 AL Championship Series.
Although the Angels were the first team to clinch a playoff berth, doing so 18 days before the end of the regular season by winning the AL West with a franchise-record 100 wins that included an identical 50-31 home-away record, when it comes to playing the Red Sox in the playoffs, it’s been another story.
“There is no mistake about this; they’ve played better baseball than we have in playoff environments head-to-head,” Scioscia said. “In ’04 they took it to us [in a 3-game sweep]. Could’ve won a couple games and they took it to us.”
Last year, it was more of the same as the Sox swept the Angels in their best-of-five ALDS series, three games to none.
“Last year, they took it to us,” Scioscia said, noting how the Angels were outscored, 19-4, and held scoreless in 25 of 26 innings. “We need to win tonight, there is no mistake. They’re a terrific ball club and we’re a terrific ball club. The bottom line is to bring it on the field and it’s a shame if we don’t bring it because if you bring it on the field and another team beats you, then it’s easy to turn the page and say, hey, congratulations.
“But if you don’t bring it to the level you need to and you lose the series, then that’s tough to swallow, so our focus is going to be bring it on the field and get after it and we’re a good team.”
If things don’t go well for the Angels tonight, perhaps, the change of venue might benefit the Halos, who went 3-0 at Fenway this year. The Angels swept the Sox in games from July 28-30, beating, in order, Daisuke Matsuzaka (tonight’s starter), Clay Buchholz, and Josh Beckett (Game 3 starter) by a combined score of 22-9.
“It’s not who we’re playing or where we’re playing, but how we’re playing the game,” Scioscia said. “We’ve had some bad series here at home during the season where we haven’t played well. On the road, if we play well we feel we’re going to have a good chance to win wherever we play. I think it speaks to how we need to play the game and that’s really what we need to do in a playoff environment.”
Scioscia said the Angels would fly out to Boston after tonight’s game. “I think when you can do it, it’s much better to stay home in your own bed,” Scioscia said. “We’ll land and get a walk on the field, get some practice and get a sweat up tomorrow night in Boston and get ready for the ballgame.”