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ANGELS-RED SOX FYI

Red Sox aren't that worried

Down two games to the Angels, they know it's not the end of the world.

October 11, 2009|Kevin Baxter and Mike DiGiovanna

BOSTON — For the Red Sox faithful, the mood here Saturday was as dark and depressing as the heavy clouds hanging over Logan Airport.

"Silenced Sox Limp Home," read the front-page headline in the Boston Globe. "Sox in Deep," said the Boston Herald.

In the Boston clubhouse, the situation didn't seem so dire.

"It's not the end of the world, like somebody said," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said with a grin.

That somebody would be Manny Ramirez, who, in his final postseason with the Red Sox, made that proclamation with Boston a loss away from elimination in the 2007 American League Championship Series against Cleveland.

The Red Sox didn't lose again, winning three straight from the Indians before sweeping Colorado in the World Series.

Boston will need the same kind of magic today when it resumes its best-of-five division series against the Angels in Fenway Park because the Red Sox are again a loss away from a long winter after managing one run and eight hits in the first two games in Anaheim.

"This is do-or-die," said Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz, who will make his postseason debut today. "You have to win to go on. We have tomorrow to look forward to. And then if it all goes well, the next day. And you go from there."

That task becomes less daunting, Pedroia said, when you've been here before. Not only in 2007, but three years earlier, when the Red Sox trailed the Yankees by three games in the ALCS before rallying to win their first World Series in 86 years.

"It was the worst feeling ever," Pedroia said of the Cleveland series. "You had that kind of same feeling now, obviously. You have that terrible feeling in your stomach that you don't want the season to end.

"So we just have to go out there and kind of [take] baby steps. You have to try to win every inning, win every pitch, and hopefully that leads to games."

Comebacker

Bobby Abreu was baseball's best free-agent bargain this season, signing a one-year, $5-million deal with the Angels and batting .293 with 15 homers, 103 runs batted in, 96 runs, 94 walks and 30 stolen bases.

The right fielder, who has reached base in six of eight division series plate appearances, with two singles and four walks, won't come as cheaply this winter, but he has made it clear his preference is to remain in Anaheim.

"Of course I want to be back," Abreu said. "I have had good times over here. This organization, the team, the manager, the owners, and the fans too. They treat me very well over here. I think they really appreciate the job I've been doing. I don't want to go nowhere else. I want to stay with the Angels."

Angels' lineup

Manager Mike Scioscia said Mike Napoli, who caught five of Scott Kazmir's six regular-season games, will start behind the plate for Game 3 today.

With Buchholz starting for Boston, switch-hitting Maicer Izturis, who hit a tiebreaking, run-scoring single in the seventh inning Friday night, will start at second base over Howie Kendrick.

Though Fenway Park and its short left-field wall can be tough for left-handed pitchers, Scioscia has no reservations about starting lefties -- Kazmir and Joe Saunders -- in Games 3 and 4.

"I think it comes down to stuff," Scioscia said. "When Scott and Joe are on, those guys can pitch anywhere."

Day off

The Red Sox's charter from Southern California didn't land until about 8 a.m. Saturday. And with today's noon EDT start time, Boston Manager Terry Francona canceled an optional batting practice session and gave his team the day off.

However, a handful of pitchers, including Buchholz, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka, came to Fenway to throw. Matsuzaka was a candidate to start Game 4, but with Boston facing elimination, Francona said that Lester, who pitched well but lost in Game 1, probably would start that game.

Stay the course

Though the Red Sox are hitting .131 with two runs in the series, Francona isn't planning any lineup changes today.

"We're going to stay with our guys," he said. "We may adjust our batting order like we have against lefties. I hope coming back here does something because the next place is not home, but home."

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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