Angels and Matt Shoemaker Step It Up and Keep It Going

A day after losing ace Garrett Richards for the rest of this season and likely a big chunk of next, the Angels got a sparkling performance from their now number two starter, rookie Matt Shoemaker, as the team shutout Boston 2-0 to sweep the four game series at Fenway. The Angels extended their American League West lead over Oakland to two full games behind Shoemaker, who did not allow the Red Sox a hit until two out in the seventh inning. Mike Morin and Jason Grilli followed Shoemaker, and between them they allowed only one hit, a seventh-inning double to Will Middlebrooks off Shoemaker.

It would have been very easy to give in to depression and anger following the devastating injury to Richards, but Mike Scioscia rallied his players and they came out ready to fight another day. Not insignificant in the grand scheme of things was an incident occurring in the sixth inning that may well have kept the fires burning in Angels' hearts and minds. After striking out, Albert Pujols meandered back to the dugout, apparently murmuring rather loudly about the
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officiating of plate umpire Andy Fletcher. Fletcher did not take kindly to whatever it was that he heard, and tossed Albert. Scioscia sprinted out to defend his star first baseman in what was then a one-run game, and after mildly instructing Fletcher in what was so very, very wrong, he was also tossed.

Scioscia took advantage of the situation and used it well to keep his players focused. the club went on to keep the Red Sox scoreless, as they scored again for the two-run win. That empty-uniform theoretically “managing” the other Los Angeles team could certainly learn a thing or two from Scioscia.

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Another word about the Dodgers. Many people credit the monumental August, 2012 trade with the Red Sox as being totally one-sided, and with turning the Dodgers into a consistent winner and pennant contender, but that really cannot be determined yet and won't be for quite awhile.
One of the reasons is the presence in the Red Sox rotation, finally, of the prize that THEY received in the trade, pitcher Rubby de la Rosa, who pitched another strong game for Boston tonight. When Rubby first came up to the Dodgers in 2011, he looked like he had all the tools to be a number one starter, but in June of that year he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament, requiring Tommy John Surgery. The Dodgers eventually gave up on Rubby; for whatever reason they were not willing to wait for his healing to be complete and for his return to regular duty on a major league pitching staff. Boston was willing to take his immense talent, knowing it would take awhile, and now, almost two years after the first part of the trade (Rubby was added, along with outfielder Jerry Sands, to complete the deal after the end of the 2012 season), he’s taking his regular turn, and is showing steady improvement.

Final note: The last time the Angels swept a four-game series in Boston was 52 years ago, in 1962.

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