It's the eighth inning of a game the Angels lead by one run, and all the relievers are equally rested. Who gets the ball?
Manager Mike Scioscia said he would go to Scot Shields in that situation Thursday afternoon, reaffirming that Shields had not lost his role as the team's primary setup man in the wake of a rough outing Tuesday in which he walked two of three batters he faced to assist Tampa Bay's winning three-run rally.
Scioscia had opted to go with reliever Jose Arredondo in the eighth inning Wednesday night against the Devil Rays, saying that he needed to get Shields back on track. Although Scioscia conceded one day later that Shields still needed to fix a "release-point issue," the manager seemed ready to turn to Shields again late in a tight game.
And that's what he did in the 10th inning Thursday night, inserting Shields into a tie game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium. Shields gave up a double to Denard Span but stranded him at second base.
"Unless he's going to be down" because of a heavy workload, Scioscia said, "he's the guy we've got a lot of confidence in to give the ball."
Shields watched video of past performances in a conference room Thursday afternoon and then pitched to bullpen catcher Steve Soliz in the outfield about an hour before the game.
Although Shields compiled a 9.00 earned-run average last August, prompting Scioscia to give him several days off late in the month, he has a 1.23 ERA this month.
"The other night, in my opinion, was a fluke," Shields said. "Tonight I was out there like my old self."
Everyone's to blame
Angels relievers had six blown saves in the seven games preceding Thursday, but Scioscia said the bullpen wasn't the only thing contributing to the team's inability to protect leads.
The defense committed three errors and the offense couldn't capitalize on several opportunities to pad slim cushions.
"There's more things than just looking at two or three relievers and saying, 'Hey, they've had some blown saves,' " Scioscia said. "We've had a chance to put some games away and haven't been able to do it, which would take some pressure off some guys."
Arredondo had three blown saves in setup situations in the seven games and Shields, Darren Oliver and Francisco Rodriguez had one each.
Angels broadcaster Terry Smith collapsed on the team flight to Southern California from Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday night and underwent tests Thursday, Angels vice president for communications Tim Mead said. He is expected to return to work Saturday. . . . Tom Kotchman left his post as manager of the Angels' rookie-league team in Orem (Utah) and traveled to Florida after his wife suffered a brain aneurysm, said Tory Hernandez, the Angels' manager of baseball operations. The Atlanta Braves also placed first baseman Casey Kotchman on the bereavement list so he could be with his mother. . . . Reserve outfielder Reggie Willits, recovering from a mild concussion, went one for three Wednesday in the first game of a rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. He could rejoin the Angels on Sunday when he's eligible to come off the disabled list, Scioscia said.