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Red Sox stumble home to face Angels

Apr 23, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) throws against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The slumping Boston Red Sox will look to get back on track against the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series that begins Tuesday.

The Red Sox are returning home after going 3-7 during a 10-game trip through Tampa Bay, Toronto and Baltimore. The Angels, coming off a four-game split against the host Chicago White Sox, have won seven of their past nine games.

Before an off day on Monday, Boston dropped two of three games over the weekend against the Orioles. In the series finale, Baltimore scored all of its runs in the fifth and sixth innings on the way to a 9-5 win.

“A tough one, but it is what it is. Nothing has changed in our mind,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We still (have) a good team that has to work. Do we have to work a little harder now? Yeah, of course. We’re still good. … We’ve got to get going.”

J.D. Martinez went 3-for-5 with a ninth-inning grand slam to extend his hit streak to five games. Rafael Devers has hit in eight straight.

The Red Sox lost four one-run games during the trip, three of them in 10 innings.

“One thing I would say is if we go through a stretch like this in June or July, it’s something that’s really common, but it gets so blown up at the start of the season,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “When everyone gets hot at the same time, it’s going to be a beautiful thing to witness.”

Looking to get Boston back on track is righty Michael Wacha (2-0, 1.77 ERA), who won each of his past two starts. He allowed one run on four hits in six innings in a 7-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Wacha made his only career start against the Angels with the St. Louis Cardinals on June 21, 2019. He pitched six innings of one-run ball and earned a win.

The Angels close a seven-game trip with the series in Boston, starting Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 2.12 ERA) for the first time since April 23. His scheduled Friday outing against the White Sox was moved due to an illness.

Syndergaard is the first pitcher to work at least five innings and allow two or fewer runs in each of his first three starts as an Angel since Andrew Heaney in 2015. He is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two career starts (13 2/3 innings) against Boston.

The Angels’ pitching plan beyond Tuesday is in question, however. Shohei Ohtani left the Sunday game due to right groin tightness, and Angels trainer Mike Frostad said the injury wasn’t severe enough to require an MRI.

Despite minimal concern from manager Joe Maddon, Ohtani wasn’t in Monday’s lineup after telling reporters that he expected to be, but he did pinch-hit. Maddon still hopes to have the reigning American League MVP pitch before the end of the series.

“We’re just going to wait a day or two to figure that out,” Maddon said of Ohtani returning to the rotation.

Los Angeles was shut out twice during the four-game set in Chicago, capped by a truly ugly performance on offense Monday. The Angels managed just two hits and no walks while striking out 15 times in a 3-0 loss.

Mike Trout fanned three times against the same pitcher, Dylan Cease, for the first time since 2016 and struck out four times total in the game.

“We actually pitched really well (Monday),” Maddon said. “They just pitched better. Cease was outstanding, and that’s as good as I’ve seen (Liam) Hendriks in a while. They were both virtually unhittable today. …

“We pitched and played well. They beat us.”

–Field Level Media