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Scioscia can't figure it out

October 04, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

What frustrates Manager Mike Scioscia about the Angels' recent postseason struggles isn't so much the nine-game playoff losing streak after Friday's 7-5 loss to Boston, but the manner in which they lost most of those games, playing nowhere close to their potential.

"The [Red Sox] are a terrific club and we're a terrific club," Scioscia said before Game 2. "The bottom line is to bring it on the field, and it's a shame if we don't, because if you bring it on the field and another team beats you, it's easy to turn the page and say, 'Congratulations.' If you don't and you lose the series, that's tough to swallow."

The Angels scored 13 runs and hit .188 during the streak, and they were overwhelmed by Boston in the 2007 division series, getting outscored, 19-4, in a three-game sweep.

Game 1 Wednesday, a 4-1 loss to the Red Sox, looked like an extension of last year's series, with some Angels looking a little lost at the plate, wavering between being too aggressive and too timid.

"You have to understand situations and what you need to do to execute," Scioscia said. "Whether it's a 2-and-0 sinker away you take up the middle because that's the swing you need, you have to stay on your game. Some guys are trying to do too much.

"If a pitcher gives you something you can line over the middle, put that swing on it. You can't get all jacked up and try to hit that pitch over the left-field wall."

Scioscia didn't express these feelings in a team meeting before Game 2, but he got a sense players were trying to focus more in-house than on the opponent.

"We've had a lot of things to think about -- last year's sweep and playing the Red Sox again," Scioscia said. "One thing we haven't thought much about is everyone playing to their potential and then seeing what the results are.

"That's what we want to focus on. The way these guys approach their business day to day during the season is great, but for some reason, we haven't had that continuity the last couple of postseasons."

Keeping their cool

Though it might be difficult to tell considering the Angels' lack of clutch hitting, Scioscia doesn't think his team's struggles have anything to do with players being uptight or unable to handle postseason pressure.

"These guys are loose -- I don't think there is anything that is indicative of our guys squeezing the bat too tight or preparing any differently," Scioscia said. "These guys are ready to play. They prepare themselves great. They get into the flow of the game.

"We just haven't gotten it done, but it's certainly not from any different attitude they're taking on the field, whether they're too loose or not focused, or whether they're focused and paralyzing themselves."

Right stuff?

As expected, Juan Rivera replaced Gary Matthews Jr. in right field Friday night, but not because Matthews lost Jacoby Ellsbury's seventh-inning liner in the lights for a three-base error in Game 1.

Matthews started only because he had three hits, including two home runs, in six career at-bats against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Rivera, who took Matthews' job in late June, probably will remain in right field for Game 3 Sunday.

"Gary's start was a byproduct of Lester and him swinging the bat well from the right side," Scioscia said. "We want to get Juan's bat in there and see how it matches up. That was the plan going in."




Angels vs. Boston

Boston leads best-of-five series, 2-0;

all times Pacific; all games on TBS

Game 1: Boston 4, at Angels 1

Game 2: Boston 7, at Angels 5

Game 3: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

Angels (Joe Saunders, 17-7, 3.41)

at Boston (Josh Beckett, 12-10, 4.03)

Game 4: Monday, 5:30 p.m.

Angels (John Lackey, 12-5, 3.75)

at Boston (Jon Lester, 16-6, 3.21)*

Game 5: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

Boston (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 18-3, 2.90)

at Angels (Ervin Santana, 16-7, 3.49)*

*If necessary

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