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With Scott Kazmir on the mound, catcher Mike Napoli got the nod

'There's a comfort level there,' Manager Mike Scioscia said of the battery mates.

October 21, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

There were blown calls by the umpires at second and third base Tuesday night, and Angels pitcher Scott Kazmir's body language seemed to suggest that the left-hander had some problems with plate umpire Jerry Layne's strike zone.

But the way Kazmir pitched -- he gave up four runs and six hits in four innings of a 10-1 loss to the Yankees in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, and was behind in so many counts he threw 89 pitches, 49 for strikes -- he wasn't about to pin any blame on the umpire.

"If you're not attacking the strike zone, you're not going to get those borderline calls," Kazmir said. "It was frustrating at times, but if you're not consistent in the strike zone, you're not going to get those calls. I wasn't making my pitches."

After the second inning, Manager Mike Scioscia came out to talk to Layne, but it had nothing to do with balls and strikes. It was about catcher Mike Napoli's positioning.

"When Nap was setting up inside late, he was blocking the umpire a bit," Scioscia said. "That's nothing new. It happens sometimes. We try to work with the umpire to put him in a position where he has better visibility."

Teeing off

Kazmir blanked the Yankees on two hits through three innings but needed 53 pitches to do so, New York getting a good look at his fastball-slider-changeup repertoire.

By the fourth, the Yankees had Kazmir measured. Alex Rodriguez led off with a single and took third on Jorge Posada's double to left. Kazmir struck out Hideki Matsui, and Robinson Cano, with the infield halfway, chopped a grounder to second.

Howie Kendrick charged and threw home on the run, but Rodriguez, who got an excellent jump, slid under Napoli's tag for a 1-0 lead. Nick Swisher walked to load the bases, and Melky Cabrera grounded a two-run single to left field for a 3-0 lead.

Mark Teixeira snapped a three-for-27 (.111) skid with a single to left to lead off the fifth for the Yankees, and Scioscia replaced Kazmir with Jason Bulger, who gave up a two-run homer to Rodriguez that made it 5-0.

"He had trouble getting ahead of guys, and when he did, he had trouble putting guys away," Scioscia said of Kazmir. "By the fourth, it didn't look like his game was going to be there, so we decided to make a change."

Uphill battle

The Angels won four games in a row over the Minnesota Twins in the 2002 ALCS. To reach the World Series, they must win three straight over the Yankees, the final two in New York.

"We've got to win one at a time, and right now . . . you focus on the process," Scioscia said. "Our guys are confident. There is nobody in that clubhouse who is down. We know what's in front of us. We know where we have to get to, and there's a terrific challenge for us."


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