ARLINGTON, Texas — Kevin Jepsen was the Angels’ top right-handed setup man in the second half of 2012, going 3-1 with a 1.67 earned-run average in 40 games from July 5 on, and he looked dominant in his first two games of 2013, striking out four in 1 2/3 scoreless innings of the season-opening series at Cincinnati.
Jepsen looked sharp again Friday against Texas, replacing starter Jason Vargas with two out and a runner on third and getting Ian Kinsler to fly to center, preserving a 2-1 lead. But even though Jepsen threw only five pitches, Manager Mike Scioscia pulled Jepsen in favor of Garrett Richards to start the seventh.
Richards gave up a two-out, score-tying home run to Adrian Beltre, and the Rangers scored another run off left-hander Scott Downs in the eighth for a 3-2 victory in their home opener, leaving Scioscia open to questions about his decision to remove Jepsen so soon.
His answer, in a nutshell: With right-hander Mark Lowe, who threw two innings Thursday, unavailable Friday, Scioscia thought Richards, a converted starter, had a better chance of throwing multiple innings than Jepsen, who missed two weeks of spring training because of a triceps injury.