Sox's backs pinned against wall
Offense struggles for second consecutive night vs. Halos
ANAHEIM -- The offense has gone into a deep freeze at a most inopportune time, and it's a dilemma that could put the Red Sox on an earlier vacation than planned if it isn't fixed in short order.
After a 4-1 loss to the Angels in Friday night's Game 2 of this American League Division Series, the Red Sox are now on the brink of elimination, backed into a 2-0 hole in the best-of-five series.
Are the Red Sox surprised it has come down to this?
"I don't know about surprising. I don't think we've played well enough to win either game," said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. "I don't think it's the way we scripted it before we got here. We definitely dug a pretty good hole for ourselves. We're not eliminated until they win the third game."
Josh Beckett was dominant for the first six innings, holding the Angels to one run. But Los Angeles forced the right-hander out in the seventh, pushing across three runs to snap a 1-1 tie and robbing Beckett of another one of those legendary performances he's come up with in previous Octobers.
Meanwhile, the bats, which have nearly everyone slumping at once, managed just two hits against winning pitcher Jered Weaver, who was every bit as magnificent in this one as John Lackey was in downing the Red Sox in Game 1.
Over the first two games, the Red Sox have scored a total of one run while getting eight hits -- just one for extra bases.
"It's a crazy game," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. "They've been playing good. Their pitching has been doing good. We just have to go home and keep on playing. They're pitching good, man. Good pitching can stop good offense. That's what they've been doing to hold us down."
0-2 Division Series deficits
Following an all-night flight home, the Red Sox will regroup on Saturday's off-day and try to bounce back for a must-win Game 3, which starts at 12:07 p.m. ET on Sunday.
It is then that the Red Sox will start their quest to become the fifth team in the history of the Division Series -- which started in 1995 -- to come back from a 2-0 deficit.
Boston's 2009 team will try to join the 1995 Mariners, 1999 Red Sox, 2001 Yankees and 2003 Red Sox as teams that have accomplished that challenging feat. There are other things manager Terry Francona's team can draw on, such as when they overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in the '04 AL Championship Series and rallied back from a 3-1 hole to eliminate the Indians in the '07 ALCS.
"There really is no big picture for us right now," said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "We just have to go out and win a ballgame or we're going home. It's about putting it together and trying to go home and get a win."
Hoping that it wouldn't come to another epic series comeback, Beckett gave the Red Sox life early, carving up the Angels over six innings and throwing 75 pitches in the process.
His control clearly wasn't as sharp in the seventh, as he opened by walking Vladimir Guerrero.
The Angels then went to the bench, with Howard Kendrick running for Guerrero. With one out, Kendrick put himself in scoring position, stealing second. Maicer Izturis came through with the big hit, a two-out RBI single up the middle that brought Kendrick home from second.
Mike Napoli was hit by a pitch, and Erick Aybar came up with a huge insurance hit, a two-run triple to center that gave the Angels a 4-1 lead.
"I felt good for six innings," said Beckett. "I made a couple of mistakes in situations where I can't make mistakes. I felt good, the leadoff walk was uncharacteristic."
In desperate need of some offense, Red Sox leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury belted a triple to center leading off the top of the fourth. It snapped an 0-for-24 postseason drought for Ellsbury, dating back to last season. With one out, Victor Martinez laced a single up the middle, bringing home Ellsbury for Boston's first run of the series.
But the lead didn't last long. Bobby Abreu started off the bottom of the fourth with a single to left. Up stepped Torii Hunter, who hit a screaming liner that Lowell made a brilliant diving catch on, saving an extra-base hit. But the Angels then executed a hit-and-run perfectly, with Guerrero punching a single through the hole vacated by second baseman Dustin Pedroia and into right, setting up runners at the corners with one out.
"If he can hit the ball in that spot, you tip your cap to him," Pedroia said. "I thought he was looking to hit the ball out of the ballpark in that situation. That was a big play for them."
Kendry Morales did his job, lining a sacrifice fly to right that tied the game.
From there, the Red Sox's offense -- hitting .131 over the first two games -- never responded.
"It's two games," said Pedroia. "Obviously it's more magnified, it's the playoffs. But we need to swing the bats better and have better at-bats. We do that, we'll be all right."
And if they don't? Nobody in the Red Sox's clubhouse wants to think of that consequence.
"Our strategy is that we need to win," said Francona. "We need to win a game."
The roles have become reversed between the cross-country rivals. In 2004, '07 and '08 it was the Red Sox that won the first two games of the ALDS against the Angels. Boston won all of those series.
The Angels will try not to let the Red Sox get off the mat.
"We certainly are aware of the challenge ahead of us even after tonight's ballgame," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "There is one thing that gives you command of the series, and that's when you win the third game in a five-game series."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.