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Angels plan to attack Yankees right and left

Manager Mike Scioscia says every scenario puts one of his left-handers on the mound in Game 1 or 2 of the ALCS. That means Scott Kazmir or Joe Saunders will pitch in New York.

October 14, 2009|Jim Peltz and Mike DiGiovanna

The Angels appear poised to mix right-handed and left-handed starting pitchers in the first two games of the American League Championship Series that opens Friday night at Yankee Stadium.

Although Angels Manager Mike Scioscia went with right-handers John Lackey and Jered Weaver in the first two games of the division series against Boston, Scioscia said Tuesday that "in every scenario we've discussed, we'll have a left-hander in Yankee Stadium in Game 1 or 2."

That means left-handers Scott Kazmir or Joe Saunders will pitch in New York. Kazmir gave up five runs in six innings Sunday in the Angels' 7-6 division series-clinching win over the Red Sox, and Saunders was scheduled to start Game 4 of the series.

Scioscia's comments came before the Angels worked out at Angel Stadium under threatening skies, and they're scheduled to work out there again this morning before leaving for New York. Scioscia said he would announce the pitching rotation today.

Lackey, who shut out Boston in 7 1/3 innings in the Angels' 5-0 win over the Red Sox in Game 1 of the division series, is expected to start the first game against the Yankees as well.

By pitching the opener, the Angels would have the option of bringing Lackey back on short rest to start Game 4 and, because of the days off after Games 4 and 5, on regular rest for a Game 7 if necessary.

With a left-hander on the mound, the Angels would force Yankees switch-hitter Mark Teixeira to hit from the right side, from which he hit only nine of his 29 home runs. Switch-hitters Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Melky Cabrera also have hit the majority of their home runs from the left side. A left-hander could also help neutralize the left-handed-hitting Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui.

Kazmir, whom the Angels acquired Aug. 28 from Tampa Bay, said a key to pitching against New York is not being influenced by the heightened atmosphere of the Yankees and their stadium.

"All you can do is just imagine it's just another ballpark, you can't get overwhelmed," Kazmir said.

"The first two innings are just to get comfortable in your surroundings and try to get through the lineup one time around and go from there."

Kazmir has a 6-5 career record and 2.67 earned-run average in 15 starts against the Yankees. He has not yet pitched in the new Yankee Stadium.

Saunders has a 2-1 career record and 6.28 ERA against the Yankees and was 1-0 with a 4.72 ERA against them in two starts this season, both at home.

Short sticks

The Angels and Yankees may have two of the most powerful offenses in baseball, but Torii Hunter said the series probably will be decided as much by short hits as deep home runs.

With both teams also having strong pitching, "it's going to come down to who executes the hit and run, the bunt or whatever it may be, it's going to come down to that 'small baseball,' " the Angels' center fielder said. "But it's going to be a big battle."

The Angels and Yankees led the major leagues in several batting categories during the regular season, including batting average, runs scored, hits and on-base percentage.

And finally

Kazmir was asked about the Angels' flight home after the team's ninth-inning rally Sunday that gave them a sweep of the Red Sox: "It was pretty rowdy for the first hour and then everyone was pretty much knocked out. It was a long day for us."


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