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ANGELS FYI

Angels John Lackey to pitch Game 1, Joe Saunders Game 2

Manager Mike Scioscia will then have Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir for Games 3 and 4, respectively, against the Yankees in the ALCS.

October 15, 2009|Jim Peltz and Mike DiGiovanna

Angels left-hander Joe Saunders, who has not pitched since the Oct. 4 regular-season finale, will start Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees in New York after right-hander John Lackey starts the opener, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday.

The Angels then will follow with right-hander Jered Weaver and left-hander Scott Kazmir in Games 3 and 4, respectively, when the best-of-seven series returns to Anaheim, Scioscia said.

Lackey, who will face the Yankees' CC Sabathia in the opener, would start again in Game 5 at Angel Stadium, if necessary.

Weaver has been much more effective at home than on the road and Saunders -- who was 7-0 with a 2.55 earned-run average in eight starts after returning from a shoulder injury in late August -- could neutralize the left-handed power of the Yankees.

But "a lot went into" designing the rotation, "it wasn't just one thing," Scioscia said at a soggy Angel Stadium, where the rain abated long enough for the Angels to hold a brief workout before flying to New York.

"It makes sense for Joe to pitch Game 2 in that park and to have Weaver and Kazmir pitch Games 3 and 4," Scioscia said.

"This is going to give us the best environment for these guys to give us a chance to win. Joe has the tools to pitch in that stadium."

That includes Saunders' hard sinker that might limit New York's power at Yankee Stadium, where 237 home runs were hit this season, tops in the major leagues.

But the best-laid plans could be upset by weather. There's a strong chance of rain in New York on Friday through Sunday, which could force both teams to juggle their pitching lineups.

Joked Scioscia: "With the amount of rain they're seeing, we might have to face Sabathia seven times; might just play one game a week."

Kendrick's contribution

Howie Kendrick could be a key weapon in the Angels' offensive arsenal against the Yankees.

The right-handed batter has been alternating with the switch-hitting Maicer Izturis at second base, which means Kendrick could see a lot of at-bats in the series against the likes of Yankees' left-handed starting pitchers Sabathia and Andy Pettitte.

And Kendrick, 26, has done well against New York pitching. He batted .310 this season against the Yankees and has hit .426 (46 for 108) in his career.

But the Jacksonville, Fla., native said the statistics won't matter much once the series starts.

"I can't really focus on whether I've had success in the past," Kendrick said. "Obviously, that's great, but you just got to go play. It's about right now."

Kendrick said "CC obviously is a great pitcher, he's a bulldog, and Pettitte does a great job. They throw a lot of strikes, so you want to get to them just as quickly as they're trying to get ahead of you. Just be ready to hit."

After slumping early this season, Kendrick was sent to triple-A Salt Lake to sort things out and flourished after being recalled, batting .351 from July 4 through the end of the regular season.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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