Red Sox-Angels series preview

August 08, 2014 - 9:00 am
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The Red Sox will go for their first series win in their last six tries this weekend when they travel to Anaheim to play the Angels in the second stop of their eight-game road trip. The Sox dropped to 50-64 for the season after losing two of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis, including a 5-2 loss Thursday in which starter Brandon Workman was tagged for four runs over 5 1/3 innings for his fifth straight loss. The Red Sox have lost their last five series and 12 of their last 15 games to fall to 15 games out of first in the AL East and five games behind the fourth-place Rays. The Angels come into the series going through some struggles of their own, although not to the same magnitude of the Sox' woes in the last three weeks. The Angels lost three out of four to the Dodgers, including a 7-0 beating at home Thursday night, and are 4-6 in their last 10. The Angels fell to three games back of the A's for first in the AL West, but still hold a 6 1/2 game lead for the top spot in the wild card at 67-47. Unlike their division rivals in Oakland, the Angels were quiet at the trade deadline. They did, however, strengthen their bullpen in mid-July when they acquired a new closer in Huston Street as part of a six-player trade with the Padres. Joe Smith, who was strong as the team's closer for the first half of the season, was moved to a setup role and has been effective there as well. This will be the first meeting between the Sox and Angls this season. The two sides will play two series in the next two weeks. The Red Sox split the season series against the Angels last season, taking two of three at home and one on the road. Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game set. Allen Webster (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (12-6, 3.59 ERA) Clay Buchholz (5-7, 6.20 ERA) vs. Garrett Richards (12-4, 2.58 ERA) Rubby De La Rosa (3-4, 3.43 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.84 ERA)

WHO'S HOT: RED SOX

-- When the Red Sox acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline last week, the hope was he'd be an added threat in the Sox' lineup. So far, he's done his part. The outfielder has six hits in his first five games with the Red Sox, including a three-hit game with a triple on Tuesday night. Cespedes has reached base safely in all five of his games in a Sox uniform and has scored a run in four of those five.

-- Daniel Nava has quietly been on a solid stretch at the plate for the Sox the last few days. Nava is on a four-game hitting streak with two runs and two RBIs. He's hit safely in seven of his last nine games.

-- Mike Napoli made a strong case to start at first base over David Ortiz in National League parks with a strong showing at the plate over the last two series. Napoli had three hits in his two starts in St. Louis, including a two-double night in the Sox' 2-1 win over the Cardinals Wednesday night.

WHO'S HOT: ANGELS

-- There's no doubting Mike Trout is the most dangerous hitter in the Angels lineup, if not in all of baseball. The 23-year-old is hitting .300 this season with team highs in home runs (25) and RBIs (81) and owns a .389 on-base percentage. Trout was held without a hit in the final two games of the Dodgers series, but he is coming off a three-game stretch in which he had seven hits with three RBIs. Trout is 8-for-27 with a homer, five RBIs and four walks in the last seven games.

-- After three-straight mediocre seasons to begin his major league career, Garrett Richards as emerged as the ace of the Angels staff this season. Monday was perhaps the righty's best start of the season. Richards tossed a complete-game shutout in a 5-0 win over the Dodgers. He gave up five hits and two walks and struck out nine on 122 pitches.

-- Street has been nearly untouchable since moving to the Angels. The closer has allowed just five hits, two walks and has nine strikeouts over eight innings with L.A. He's converted all six of his save opportunities.

WHO'S NOT: RED SOX

-- At this point, it isn't a matter of if Jackie Bradley Jr. is going to struggle at the plate, it's how badly he's going to do so. Bradley was only given one start and three plate appearances in the Cardinals series, and failed to reach base in any of them. Bradley is hitless in his last 27 at-bats, with 13 strikeouts.

-- Webster hasn't made much of a case to be in consideration for the Red Sox' wide-open 2015 starting rotation. The 24-year-old is coming off a disastrous start last Saturday in which he lasted just 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Yankees. Webster finished with six walks, five of which came in a costly four-run third inning, and has issued 11 free passes in eight total innings in the big leagues this season.

-- After veterans Jon Lester and John Lackey were dealt at the trade deadline last weekend, Buchholz became the veteran and de facto ace of the Sox staff. That reality, however, should leave Sox fans concerned after Buchholz gave up seven runs for the second straight start last Sunday. The righty allowed eight hits and five walks over five innings in a no-decision against the Yankees. He's walked 13 batters in his last three starts.

WHO'S NOT: ANGELS

-- Howie Kendrick had been one of the Angels' hottest hitters in July, but he has struggled in his last eight games. The second baseman is 4-for-32 (.125) since July 30 and has gone hitless in five of those eight games.

-- Josh Hamilton has been bothered by injuries for most of the season. But lately it's the Angels who have been hurt by their slugger's lack of production. The outfielder is hitless in his last 13 at-bats after launching a home run in the sixth inning Monday night. Hamilton is 5-for-27 (.185) in August so far.

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