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Angels do not have the right stuff against left-handed pitchers

Angels do not have the right stuff against left-handed pitchers
Mariners starter Joe Saunders blanked the Angels on five hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking two, to improve to 8-8 on Friday night. (Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images)

SEATTLE -- An 8-3 loss to Seattle on Friday night had an all-too-familiar ring for the Angels, who were shut down — again — by a left-hander, Joe Saunders blanking them and giving up five hits in seven innings.

The Angels are 10-14 against left-handed starters, and they began Saturday night's game against the Mariners with a .239 average, .304 on-base percentage and .389 slugging percentage against left-handers. They had a .279/.342/.442 line against right-handers.

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Asked whether he had any insight into how a team with right-handed sluggers Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo could struggle so much against left-handers, hitting coach Jim Eppard said, "Nope. I really don't."

Nor did Trumbo, a .253 career hitter against left-handers who is hitting .222 against them this season.

"I don't have a good answer," he said. "In the past, we've done pretty well against them."

Pujols, a .328 career hitter against left-handers, is batting .209 against them, though knee and foot injuries have contributed. Josh Hamilton, who bats left-handed, has a .268 career mark against left-handers but is hitting .155 against them.

Mike Trout (.319) and Howie Kendrick (.305) are hitting left-handers, but the regular with the best mark against them is left-handed-hitting J.B. Shuck (.353).

"If you see lefties regularly, you should have competitive at-bats against them," Trumbo said. "But if you haven't seen one for a while it can be strange, especially when you face the quality lefties."

Like many left-handers who have handled the Angels, Saunders followed a similar formula Friday.

"They get ahead, and that opens the door to their off-speed stuff," Eppard said. "Whether we're running into those guys who are having good nights against us or if it is partially us, I really don't have the answer. I wish I did."

Eppard's faith in the team's philosophy, work ethic and approach remains firm.

"It's not like football, where you can design a play to exploit a weakness," Eppard said. "You have to go up there and battle, and whatever happens, happens."

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