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The Boston Red Sox had history on their side going into their AL division series with the Los Angeles Angels.
Now they need hits.
The four the Red Sox managed in each of their two losses probably won't be enough in Game 3 on Sunday. And they'll probably need more than one run - their total in those two games - to avoid a sweep.
The passionate fans at Fenway Park will shout for their players but can't swing the bats for them. The team with five 20-home run hitters faces two options: start hitting or start packing their bags.
"I don't think the panic button or any more undue pressure is really going to be that beneficial," said Jason Bay, who hit 36 homers this season but has just one hit in the postseason. "Guys know where we're at."
Boston is in a much different place than it was in its last three division series against the Angels - sweeps in 2004 and 2007 when the Red Sox won two World Series titles and a 3-1 series win last year.
Now the Angels have a chance for the first postseason sweep in team history.
"We're not concerned with any of that," manager Mike Scioscia said. "No one has a handle on a series until you win that third game and you clinch it."
The Red Sox bounced back from another two-game deficit last year when they forced a seventh game after losing three of the first four to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL championship series.
Then the Rays led 7-0 after 61/2 innings of Game 5 behind Scott Kazmir. But he left after six innings and the Red Sox rallied for an 8-7 win at Fenway.
Kazmir, a left-hander traded to the Angels on Aug. 28, will be back on that mound Sunday, trying to eliminate the Red Sox for the second straight year in a stadium where he is 2-0 with 3.27 ERA.
"I like the atmosphere," he said. "I really just get amped up for games like that where you have a crowd just all over you and just kind of just being in a territory that you're really not comfortable in."
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz must avoid getting too amped up for his first postseason start.
The 25-year-old right-hander went 2-9 last year and was called up to Boston on July 21 this season. He was 7-4 with a 4.21 ERA and struggled in his last two starts.
"I know the nerves are going to be there in the first and second inning," he said. "After the first pitch and first couple of batters I'll try to take it back to where I was in the middle of the season. Just rely on (my) fastball to get ahead and (keep) going from there."
But a strong performance by Buchholz won't be enough without support, just as good outings by Boston starters Jon Lester and Josh Beckett in the first two games didn't keep the Angels from winning 5-0 and 4-1 behind superior pitching by John Lackey and Jered Weaver.
"It's not all on (Buchholz's) shoulders," Bay said. "Offensively, we can help him out a little bit."
The heart of Boston's lineup has struggled with Victor Martinez going 1 for 7, Kevin Youkilis 1 for 8 and David Ortiz 0 for 8 with four strikeouts.
"There is no big picture for us," Youkilis said. "We have to go out and win a ballgame or we're going home."
For the Angels, Torii Hunter hit a three-run homer in the opener. In Game 2, Maicer Izturis drove in the go-ahead run and Erick Aybar followed with a two-run triple.
"We can start a rally at any time with the guys we get on base," said Bobby Abreu, who is 2 for 4 with four walks. "We have some guys with power over here, but we use the whole game. The reason we use a lot of our speed is so that we can score when a ball is hit in the gap."
Hunter has mixed feelings about the struggles of Ortiz, one of his best friends in baseball.
"I hate to see him go through that," Hunter said of his former teammate with the Minnesota Twins, "but while he's going through it, he might was well go through it Sunday, too."
The Angels arrived in Boston on Saturday night after working out at home. The Red Sox left on their cross-country flight right after Game 2.
On Sunday, both teams must get out of bed early for a 12:07 p.m. EDT start.
"We'll show up (and) do what we always do on early games," said Boston manager Terry Francona, who missed the Game 1 introductions with suspected food poisoning, "have 12 pieces of bacon, a Red Bull and go get 'em."
He's a better manager than a dietitian, so he doesn't plan to change much for what could be his team's last game of the season.
"We're going to stay with our guys," he said. "We may adjust our batting order like we have against lefties."
Scioscia doesn't need to make any major changes. Not with his team one win away from sweeping the team it used to get swept by.
"It was tough for us to sleep after the last couple of (playoff) series against those guys because we didn't play to a certain level," he said, "but we've done it the first two games here. We feel good about that, and that's what we hope to keep doing."
This program aired on October 11, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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