After their mid-week sojourn to the Bronx, the Five crew are back in Blighty presenting what should be a great match-up between two of the top teams in the Majors.Â It’s important to note that Five’s broadcast begins at the normal time of 01.05; however this is not a live game.Â Because of the ESPY awards on ESPN, first pitch is actually 23.00 BST.Â Five will be showing the game ‘as live’, so remember to stay away from the Internet if you don’t want toÂ find out what’s happened before it’s happened (as Yogi Berra has probably said in the past).Â
Prior to today’s games, the Angels have the best record in baseball at 59-38.Â Although they were favourites for the AL West crown before the season got under way, injuries to their top two starters, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, suggested they could be vulnerable if one of their division rivals got off to a hot start.Â No such challenge has really materialized and, in any case, the form of Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders has meant that the rotation has barely missed a beat.
The Red Sox have also suffered a few injuries, most notably to Curt Schilling and David Ortiz, while continuing to pick up victories on their way to a 57-42 record.Â The Tampa Bay Rays have been the big surprise of 2008 and Boston would surely have not been expecting to trail the perennial AL East cellar dwellers at this stage in the season.Â The Rays are for real, but Boston have an excellent roster of experienced players and the reigning World Series champs look set for a strong second half.
The Series so far
L.A. have already clinched the three-game series at Angel Stadium, taking the first game 11-3 and then rallying in the seventh inning last night to turn a 0-2 deficit into a final score of 4-2.Â The Angels have now won four of their five games against the Red Sox this season.
Jon Garland is the scheduled starter for the Angels.Â The right-hander was acquired from the White Sox over the off-season and has been solid if unspectacular so far in ’08, with a 8-6 record and a 4.20 ERA.Â That perhaps sums him up quite well as a starter.Â He doesn’t strike out many (51 K’s in 120 innings this year), but he’s got a good sinking fastball alongside a slider, curve and a change.
As they did two weeks ago, the Red Sox send knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to the mound in the big Sunday night game on Five.Â That night he had a decent start against the Yankees, going 6.1 innings and giving up three earned runs against a strong batting lineup.Â He followed it up with an excellent outing against the Orioles on July 12th, allowing just two hits over seven innings.Â Wakefield has an even 6-6 record on the season, although he is below .500 against the Angels over his career (9-11, 4.79 ERA).
Things to look out for
- A strong start by Wakefield?Â Over the course of his career, July has been the veteran’s best month in terms of ERA (3.92 compared to his overall mark of 4.30).
- A big night for Bad Vlad?Â Vladimir Guerrero is 4 for 8 against Wakefield with a home run and is hitting .351/.409/.590 since 1 June.
- Boston running the bases.Â The Red Sox haven’t attempted to steal in the series so far, something of a surprise considering opponents have stolen twenty-eight straight against the Halos without being caught.