Angels turn to Escobar to right ship in Game 2
BOSTON -- To spot the sweetest sight of the night for the Red Sox, all you needed to do was peek at the Boston bullpen, where the door never opened and the pitchers never were used. What wasn't happening out there, as it lay dormant, is what manager Terry Francona and his team may eventually be thankful for as their series against the Angels progresses.The bullpen stayed shut because of a dominating performance by starter Josh Beckett, who threw a shutout in a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night in Game 1 of their AL Division Series. In saving his bullpen, Beckett gave the Sox a potentially decisive advantage when these two teams play again Friday night -- when Boston's 'pen likely will be called on for the first time in five days.
"Your pitches are better with the rest you have," Red Sox lefty reliever Javier Lopez said. "If you have more rest, maybe your command will be a little bit better. It's tough to get rest as a bullpen, but it worked out great [Wednesday night]."To be fair, the Angels' bullpen didn't get much work, either, since Ervin Santana, normally a starter, pitched two innings after John Lackey threw six and gave up all four runs. Now the Angels will turn to Kelvim Escobar, who was so dominant for long stretches of the season that he was among the top candidates for the AL Cy Young Award. About a week before the season ended, he skipped a start due to shoulder soreness, but he returned Saturday to win his final start of the season. Escobar will face Daisuke Matsuzaka, a pitcher who also drew concerns about the wear on his arm and who's never pitched a postseason game in the big leagues before. Even Francona acknowledged his own anticipation. "I'd say [I'm] more than curious" about how Matsuzaka will pitch, Francona said. "We've seen all the bumps in the road, the hiccups in some of the outings. But being intimidated or shrinking from a challenge won't be one of them."
I'm going to be honest with you, this is a weird set-up. The fact that this series is a five-game series that stretches out so long, we'll see if it affects any team.
--Angels manager Mike Scioscia
Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com.
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