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Angels Reach ALCS By Sweeping The Red Sox

Posted on October 11, 2009 by Dean Hybl
The Los Angeles Angels kept the Red Sox on their backs throughout their American League Playoff Series.

The Los Angeles Angels kept the Red Sox on their backs throughout their American League Playoff Series.

The Boston Red Sox offense finally found their bats, but the bullpen couldn’t hold a late lead as the Los Angeles Angels surprisingly completed a series sweep to end the 2009 season for the Sox.

It was a disappointing end to a season that was filled with peaks and valleys.

The Red Sox began the season seizing a lead of as many as five games in the American League East before injuries started to erode their pitching depth.

After slumping in July and early August, the Sox rebounded to clinch their sixth playoff appearance in the last seven seasons.

Facing an Angels team that they had defeated in the playoffs in three times since 2004, there was cautious optimism that the Red Sox and Yankees would meet in the AL Championship Series for the first time since the historic rally by the Red Sox in 2004.

Unfortunately for the Sox, it was not to be as two strong pitching outings and then a late rally proved to be enough to lift the Angels into the AL Championship Series for the first time since 2005.

In the series opener, John Lackey showed that he is still a big game pitcher as he allowed only four hits in seven innings. Torii Hunter blasted a three-run home run to give the Angels a lead they would not relinquish in the 5-0 victory.

Kevin Youkilis and the Red Sox were never able to get comfortable against the Angels.

Kevin Youkilis and the Red Sox were never able to get comfortable against the Angels.

Jered Weaver allowed only two hits and one run in seven innings to lead the Angels in game two. Erick Aybar drove home two runs to give the Angels the offense they needed in a 4-1 win.

After recording only eight hits and one run in two games in California, the Red Sox at least found their bats when they got home to Fenway Park for the third game of the series.

Boston scored three runs in the third inning as Dustin Pedroia drove home two runs with a double then scored on a hit by Victor Martinez.

A home run by Kendry Morales made the score 3-1, but the Red Sox added two runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-1 lead.

The Angels scored once in the sixth inning, but Boston still led 5-2 entering the eighth inning.

Except for a brief slip in July and August, the Red Sox bullpen had been one of the best in baseball in 2009. The addition of Billy Wagner down the stretch seemed to add to the strength of the unit.

However, Wagner allowed two base runners in the eighth inning before being relieved by closer Jonathan Papelbon. Juan Rivera greeted the Red Sox closer with a hit to drive home two runs and make the score 5-4.

Displaying the kind of resilience that has become a staple in recent years, the Sox answered in the bottom of the eighth as Mike Lowell drove home a run to give Papelbon a two run lead entering the ninth.

Traditionally, a two run lead is more than enough for Papelbon, but that proved not to be the case this time around. After Papelbon retired the first two batters, Aybar registered his second hit off the closer in the game to keep the Angels alive.

A double by Bobby Abreu cut the lead to one run and then after the bases were loaded, Vladamir Guerrero singled to drive home two runs and give the Angels the lead.

Boston went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to end the season in a far different manner than many expected.

The Angels will now await the winner of the Minnesota-New York Yankees series to see which team they will face in the AL Championship Series. They have faced the Yankees twice in the playoffs this decade (2002 and 2005) with the Angels winning both series. If the Angels and Twins meet in the ALCS it will mark the first-ever playoff meeting between these two former division rivals.


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