The Angels' Dan Haren commanded the Sox from the start of today's game, teetering his already impressive ERA to around 0.50 (in four starts) by the sixth inning. The Sox offense didn't let him stroll away that easily though, working most at-bats deep into the count and sending him to the bench after 6.1 innings and 109 pitches.
Buehrle wasn't at his sharpest, despite keeping the game in control while getting hit hard, early and often. His four earned runs were scattered one at a time over six innings and ten hits, but the tone seemed to be set by the time Izturis was standing at third base with no outs in the first inning. Buehrle did a fine job of working out of jams and keeping the game within reach, but our offense proved remarkably helpless against Haren.
In the 7th inning, just when it felt like the Angels were running away with the game, the Sox offense took advantage of the hundred-mark Haren, and managed to cross two runners on his watch to cut the deficit in half (and bump his ERA back to a more earthly 1.16). The Angels' Takahashi relieved Haren with ducks still on the pond, but quickly silenced the rallying Sox by retiring the big bad bats of Vizquel and Pierre.
The Sox had moments of promise throughout the game, but left eight stranded on the day. A notable lost opportunity came in the 4th inning after Paulie singled to start it off. Three innings and one batter into the fourth, Haren was already facing the 60-pitch mark while Paulie stood at first and Quentin challenged him at the plate. Q sucked the wind clear out of our sails by grounding into a double-play; and Haren left the inning at 64 pitches after Rios swiftly grounded out as well. Math may not be my forte, but that amounts to three outs over four pitches, and without even having a colorful graph to confirm this, I don't believe that's very - how you say - good.
Taking the two-run deficit into the bottom of the 9th inning, Quentin led off with a double to right field. Rios walked, followed by a "successful" bunt by Pierzynski to move our guys into position to tie the game on a single. Unfortunately, Alexei was unable to check his swing on a high 0-2 fastball, and passed the two-out/two-on torch to Omar. Intimidating as ever, Vizquel kept hope alive by drawing a walk to load the bases. Two pitches later, Pierre hit an easy-breezy pop-up to left field to end the game. Juan Pierre: Rally-Killer Du Jour. Do they have a Badge for that on Gameday?
Today's loss completed the Angels' sweep of the Sox on our home turf, extended the losing streak to four games, and dipped the hot-starting Sox below the .500-mark. This series was downright ugly in a non-winning sort of way. From the relentless weather delays since Friday, to the poor defense and paltry offense, the Sox never had a grip on this series (nor even a lead since the 3rd inning on Friday). The Angels outscored the Sox 15-7 over the three games, and I suppose we can at least be proud that 13 of those runs were actually earned. Stretch!
Tomorrow begins a four-game series against the Rays and a long road trip that finds us in Yankee Stadium before returning to the comforts of home at the end of the month. With homestands like these though (4-6 overall), who needs
enemies away splits?