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Kevin Jepsen continues solid work with Angels

Reliever, who sat out six weeks because of a shoulder strain, does another good job in club's victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

June 12, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

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BALTIMORE -- One of the few bright spots for the Angels this season has been reliever Kevin Jepsen's strong return after sitting out six weeks of April and May because of a shoulder strain.

In eight appearances since he was activated in late May, Jepsen has given up no earned runs and three hits, struck out nine and walked two in 72/3 innings, showing excellent command of his 96-mph fastball.

Though he was nicked for an unearned run in the eighth inning of the Angels' 9-5 win over Baltimore on Wednesday after Josh Hamilton, battling the sun and wind, dropped Adam Jones' fly ball in the right-field corner for a three-base error, Jepsen retired three of the other four batters he faced.

"I'm putting the ball where I need to, keeping it out of the heart of the plate," said Jepsen, who had a 9.82 earned-run average in his first six games before going on the disabled list but has lowered his ERA to 3.18. "It's definitely nice because the start of the year was tough, I had no idea where the ball was going."

Now, he'd just like to pitch in more high-leverage situations. Wednesday marked only the third time in eight appearances since being activated that Jepsen went into a game with the Angels leading.

"It's not frustrating for myself, it's frustrating that we're not mixing in wins as a team," Jepsen said. "It would be nice if I was getting worn out, but it is what it is. I try to stay ready, and, when the phone rings, throw up zeros."

Joe Blanton is out of rotation for weekend

The Angels won't have Joe Blanton in the rotation this weekend, and Manager Mike Scioscia did not commit to a specific return date for the struggling right-hander, who is 1-10 with a 5.87 ERA, worst among American League starters.

C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson and Jered Weaver will pitch against the New York Yankees beginning Friday night. Jerome Williams gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings Wednesday and could bump Blanton to the bullpen.

Blanton was rocked for seven runs and eight hits, including three home runs, in Sunday's loss to Boston. He has given up a major league-high 111 hits, and opponents are batting .332 against him, the second-highest mark among AL starters.

Historic home run

Hank Conger's third-inning home run Wednesday was the 69th to land on Eutaw Street, which runs between the right-field wall and the B&O Warehouse in Camden Yards. Lee Stevens was the only other Angel to hit a home run onto Eutaw Street, on May 23, 1992, the year the park opened.

Congers's shot, like all the others to reach Eutaw Street, will be commemorated by a plaque that will be embedded in the concrete on the spot it landed, with Conger's name and Wednesday's date.

"That's a nice compliment," Conger said.

Cooling trend

Vernon Wells, traded from the Angels to the Yankees in March, has slumped since a highly productive start in which he hit .287 with 10 home runs and 24 runs batted in through 44 games.

Through Tuesday, in 17 games since May 24, Wells had a .117 average (seven for 60), a .131 on-base percentage, a .133 slugging percentage, no home runs and two RBIs.

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