Have Angels learned from Fenway blues?
BOSTON -- The last time the Angels played here was in mid-September. They lost two of the three games while center fielder Torii Hunter publicly questioned whether his team's recent postseason futility against the Red Sox was creeping into some of his teammates' heads. But Angels general manager Tony Reagins left Fenway Park with optimism, in spite of the results on paper.
"I think the atmosphere is not going to intimidate us, just because of what we went through less than a month ago," Reagins said as his team took batting practice on Sunday morning. "Our guys are going to play baseball. Their going to raise their level of play and that's what you have to do in this park."
The Angels' record here at Fenway Park during the postseason is 2-7 and they are just 13-30 in their last 33 regular season games here. But when they were last here, a few calls they felt went against them, including a contentious interaction between Angels coaches and the umpires after Boston came back to win the second game. Reagins felt that helped expose the team to the intensity of Fenway Park, and how much of an advantage the Red Sox hold here.
Questions about a hex seem to have subsided since the Angels have won the first two games of this series. Reagins said he sees his team playing more relaxed; that it did not panic in either game when it didn't immediately race out to a big lead was emblematic of their loose approach. The Angels stayed with it, waiting out both Jon Lester and Josh Beckett into the later innings, then pouncing.
"I liken it to a boxing match where those first couple of rounds, you're feeling each other out, sparring a little bit, you jab, jab, jab," regains said. "And then a strong right hand will weaken the opponent a little bit, so you let them know that you're there."
Reagins also said the preparation his advance scouts have done has forced Boston into have a less patient approach at the plate. Boston is hitting just .131 -- with just one extra base hit -- with a team OPS of .265.
"I think it's not letting them get comfortable in the box," Reagins said. "Their hitters are so good that that's difficult to do. Through video and through scouting you can see some trends that might be effective and we've tried to do that."
Of course, Reagins wouldn't get specific about what exactly those trends were. But just because it's been effective the first two games does not mean it will work on Sunday. After all, this series is back at Fenway Park.
"I think we have a comfort level being here less than a month ago and the way that series went," Reagins said. "To the man, we have the ability, to go out and play real good baseball. We feel if we're capable of playing the way we're playing, we're tough to beat anywhere."