BOSTON — The Angels must be feeling the way Bill Murray's character did in the movie "Groundhog Day." Every day is the same. They get up, go to the park, fall behind in the first inning and lose.
That scenario played out for the fourth consecutive game Friday night, as the Boston Red Sox spoiled the return of pitcher Shawn Boskie and extended the Angels' losing streak to seven with an 11-3 victory before a paid crowd of 32,861 in Fenway Park.
Four Angel pitchers gave up a season-high 18 hits, as the Angels suffered their 13th loss in the last 16 games. Their lead in the American League West is down to 6 1/2 games over Seattle, which appears to be making the second-half run many expected.
Desperate times call for drastic measures, and Manager Marcel Lachemann will take one today, pulling center fielder Jim Edmonds, who has an injured back, out of the starting lineup.
Edmonds, who strained a lower back muscle Tuesday night in New York, struck out a season-high four times Friday night and now has only two hits in his last 34 at-bats.
Though his defensive play has been solid, Edmonds appears to be in pain almost every time he swings, and he can't get around on inside pitches.
"I think I'm going to take a couple of days off," said Edmonds. "I'm tired of embarrassing myself out there. I'm not helping anybody. I know I'm missing pitches because of the injury, and that's becoming a problem."
Lachemann said Edmonds "probably won't play the next few days--he's OK defensively, but he can't finish his swing." Rex Hudler will probably start in center today against Boston left-hander Zane Smith, and Orlando Palmeiro, just called up from triple-A Vancouver, will start against right-handers.
The move should boost the offense a bit, but what the Angels really need is a quality start from a pitcher. Angel opponents have scored in the first inning in seven of the last 10 games, and the Red Sox put the Angels in a hole with a two-run first Friday night.
The Angels came back to tie with two runs in the top of the second, but Boston went on to dismantle Boskie and three relievers, scoring once in the third, three times in the fifth, once in the sixth, twice in the seventh and twice in the eighth.
Boskie, who hasn't started for the Angels since July 5 because of elbow tendinitis, went five innings, giving up six runs and 11 hits, including five doubles and a triple.
"I probably should have taken him out before I did," Lachemann said. "But his velocity wasn't bad. He showed some crispness."
The Red Sox showed more snap, crackle and pop. Third baseman Tim Naehring had four hits and three RBIs, first baseman Mo Vaughn had three hits, including two doubles, and shortstop John Valentin had three hits to back the pitching of Roger Clemens, who went 7 2/3 innings to improve to 7-4. Boston has won nine of 13 and five in a row over the Angels.
"You don't want to panic--you can get an ulcer sitting around and worrying," said designated hitter Chili Davis, who broke an 0-for-14 slump with three hits. "We're lucky to have a lead while we're going through this. We have room to breath, and we have to remember that."
The early deficits are having a suffocating effect on the Angels, though. Many batters are pressing, trying to come up with the key hit that could get the Angels back into the game.
"I'm trying to make things happen when they're not there," said leadoff batter Tony Phillips, who had two walks but was hitless in three other at-bats. "My first at-bat today [a groundout] I didn't get anything to hit. I could have walked two more times. I've got to start being more patient."
Added shortstop Damion Easley: "You can tell everyone is trying to be the hero, to pick up the rest of the team. You can't go up there with that state of mind. You just have to relax and think about what you have to do to get on base."
The losses are also taking a toll on Lachemann, who said he's "in as much of a slump" as the players are.
"I don't even need a VCR," he said. "Games just keep playing in my head."