Angels' Kevin Jepsen pitches in the seventh inning against the Texas… (Rick Yeatts / Getty Images )
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.
“Garrett has a better chance to get through an inning, sit down, come back out and keep going,” Scioscia said. “Jepsen has gone one-plus before, and he can handle it, but Garrett is much better prepared for it.”
Jepsen usually needs eight to 10 pitches to warm up, but since his triceps injury, “It’s taking me an extra eight to 10 pitches to get loose,” he said. “And if I sit, especially in cold weather, it tightens up. But it’s feeling better every day.”
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