Three keys for Angels in Game 2 against Royals
Angels need superstars to step up in support of Shoemaker
ANAHEIM -- The offense missed some opportunities, Fernando Salas' changeup didn't sink low enough and Kansas City's defense made some key plays. And so, the Angels lost Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night, 3-2, in 11 innings.
Postgame, they were already looking ahead to Friday's Game 2.
"Just flip that page," Albert Pujols said. "That's why it's best of five."
The last thing the Angels want is to go into Kansas City on the brink of elimination. Losing back-to-back home games in a best-of-five series is almost catastrophic. To avoid that, here are three things the Angels need to have happen in Game 2:
1. Matt Shoemaker needs to give them a chance
The 28-year-old right-hander has been rehabbing a mild strain in his left oblique since the middle of September, and hasn't started a game in nearly three weeks. But Shoemaker also won 16 games and posted a 3.04 ERA in 2014, and is someone Mike Scioscia often referred to as the Angels' "savior." In Game 2, he just needs to keep them in the game.
2. The offense needs to take advantage early
Asked how much more difficult it is to push runs across against the Royals' devastating bullpen, Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said, "I think the biggest thing is to try to get your runs early." That means before Royals manager Ned Yost can even go to his 'pen. And for Game 2, it means doing it against Yordano Ventura, who can throw his fastball in the triple digits, but is also only 23 years old.
3. The big guys need to step up
Pujols, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton went a combined 0-for-13, with two walks and a strikeout. If you lump Kendrick, the cleanup hitter, into that mix, it's 0-for-18, with nine baserunners stranded. It was one game, off-nights happen and this Angels offense was built on depth. But at least one of their superstars has to produce in key situations -- and it needs to happen fast.