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ANGELS NOTES

Angels' Mike Scioscia is looking for relief

Manager believes the team's bullpen problems are tied to struggles by starting pitchers, who are not going deep into games.

August 14, 2012|By Baxter Holmes

In the first half this season, the Angels' bullpen had an earned-run average of 3.16.

In the second half?

"It's been bad," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our bullpen has been really struggling."

The bullpen's ERA had, before Tuesday's game against Cleveland, ballooned to 6.07.

Moreover, the Angels have blown 17 save opportunities, tied for 28th in the majors.

The bullpen has hampered the Angels' chances of winning in recent games. Monday's loss to Cleveland is a prime example, when Albert Pujols' two-run home run in the eighth inning cut the Angels' three-run deficit to one run.

But the Indians opened the ninth inning with three consecutive singles against reliever Hisanori Takahashi. Cleveland scored three runs, killing the Angels' chances of a ninth-inning comeback.

Scioscia believes the bullpen's struggles are tied to the struggles by the starting pitchers, who haven't lasted deep into games, forcing relievers to pitch earlier and longer.

Said reliever Jason Isringhausen, 39: "I'll be the first one to admit, I don't have the stuff anymore to pitch in the eighth inning."

Scioscia said that "You had a bullpen that wasn't necessarily as deep … that was all of the sudden stretched the other way. And there have been some cracks that have formed."

Are Angels relievers pitching up to their potential?

"I think in some ways, they've done a decent job," Scioscia said. "And in some ways we haven't stepped up and maybe filled some of the gaps that have been created with Scott [Downs] being out."

Downs, who has been out for about 21/2 weeks because of a shoulder strain, threw a simulated inning Tuesday. Scioscia said Downs is perhaps one more bullpen session or simulated game from returning from the disabled list.

Also likely to return soon is reliever Jordan Walden, who pitched for triple-A Salt Lake on Monday and is expected to throw another rehab inning with the Bees in two days.

Walden is working his way back from a biceps strain and neck issues.

Mike Butcher is suspended

Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher served a one-game suspension issued by Major League Baseball because he left the dugout to argue balls and strikes and "aggressively" argue with plate umpire Mike Estabrook on Sunday in a game against Seattle.

Butcher was also fined an undisclosed amount, was ejected in the first inning with Angels ace Jered Weaver on the mound.

It was Butcher's fourth ejection overall and first since 2008.

It's a happy reunion

As part of Anniversary Week, in which the Angels are honoring their 2002 World Series championship team, former closer Troy Percival threw out the first pitch. Former outfielder Garret Anderson is scheduled to throw out the first pitch Wednesday.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/BaxterHolmes

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