As I'm sure you all know, I live in Boston with Fenway Park blasting its video scoreboard directly at my bed. I also have the "privilege" of watching 80 or so Sox games a year. As such, I'm probably more intimately familiar with the team than anyone else here, and I feel I have something to contribute when it comes to analyzing our biggest non-divisional rivals.
Tonight's game was a textbook example of a game we could have won with proper bullpen usage. Wtih that said, here's the way to beat the Red Sox on any given night.
1.) Red Sox games are obscenely long, on average. While we get used to games that end in two and a half hours, the Sox tend to extend games well over three and a half hours on a regular basis. Why? They take lots of pitches and their pitchers slow down the game when they have a lead. The key here, however, is that they take picthes. You will be infintiely more successful with the Sox if you don't walk them. Ever. They have a lineup which thrives only when crap hitters like Julio Lugo and Kevin Cash make it on base for the power hitters. People like Kevin Youkilis walk more in a game than Garett Anderson does in a season. You need to throw strikes at all times. On an 0-2 count, they'll often wait for the waste pitch. Don't fall for it. Throw a strike on 0-2 and you'll do what Weaver did to the inning that had Pedrioa-Ortiz-Manny. He struck out the side without working up a sweat. Throw strikes. You don't get a real break in this lineup (Jacoby Ellsbury isn't actually good, for the record), so you can't afford to put people on base without making them earn it.
2.) The Red Sox have lots of guys who are good hitters. If you get a sizable lead, you don't start walking guys and pitching like you have a sizable lead. If you're up 4 runs, start micromanaging. Put in a reliver with effective numbers and make it stick. Darren Oliver should have been out of the 'pen the second Manny Ramirez hit a home run which Vlad managed to rob. Pitcher wins/losses are a bullshit stat, and until managers decide that winning games is more important than giving pitchers a chance at a decision, they'll keep losing games.
3.) The Red Sox bullpen is much, much worse than it looks. Hideki Okajima is a hilarious excuse for a relief pitcher. He literally CANNOT throw strikes in any count. His head is facing his shoes during his delivery. He does not have an accurate, 98 mph fastball. He is a slop-throwing lefty who relies so heavily on impatient batters that when he does throw a strike, he looks legitimately surprised. You have an easier time walking to first base on 4 straight crap-balls into the dirt than you do hitting said crap-ball. Mike Timlin sucks and there's no reason to give him early-count outs. Julian Tavarez throws strikes, but you should never swing at anything he throws that isn't a fastball. Once you get to Papelbon, you've already screwed up. Hope to get an off-speed pitch and put it into right. The fastball is not gonna be hittable, by and large, and he gets an expanded strike zone.
4.) Don't ignore, and don't place too much emphasis on, early performance in a game. Dustin Pedroia is a scrappy hitter (I suspect his BABIP is ridiculous, but I'm not gonna bother looking it up unless someone tells me I'm obsecenely wrong). Play him to pole. Every time. He will also hit for power and gets amped up late in a game by sucking on a cheekful of chew. Just because Manny Ramirez has looked like shit his last two AB's doens't mean you let him get into a hitter's count. And just because Garret Anderson has two hits in the game, that doesn't mean he (and his miserable bat speed) should be in the box in the bottom of the ninth.
5.) Terry Francona is old and extremely uncomfortable in his baseball gear. Make him walk up and down the dugout steps.
6.) Don't forget who you are. The Angels are not a team which can be expected to hit 6 home runs a game. They should, however, have a #2 hitter who can put the ball in the outfield. Re-learn small ball against a crappy bullpen and you will win often.
I guess a lot of that is obvious, but the Angels did none of that today. And that pisses me off. Because I could get on base vs. Okajima on 4 pitches.