Santana Is Sent to the Bullpen
The Angels added another power arm to their bullpen Monday when they bumped rookie Ervin Santana from their rotation for the playoffs and lined up Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Paul Byrd and Jarrod Washburn to start against the New York Yankees.
But they will again go to the postseason without a left-handed reliever, opting to keep right-hander Kevin Gregg on their 10-man staff over left-hander Jason Christiansen, who was acquired from San Francisco on Aug. 30 and had mixed results in 12 games. Right-hander Esteban Yan also was left off the playoff roster.
The lack of a situational left-hander haunted the Angels after Manager Mike Scioscia summoned Washburn to face Boston slugger David Ortiz in the 10th inning of Game 3 of the division series last October. Ortiz crushed Washburn’s first playoff relief pitch for a game-winning, two-run home run, capping a three-game sweep by the Red Sox.
Scioscia said Gregg’s ability to provide length in Game 1, especially after Santana threw 103 pitches Sunday in Texas, contributed to the move, as did Gregg’s solid finish -- he gave up one run and six hits in 10 innings of his last five appearances.
But the decision boiled down to this: If Christiansen, who allowed seven of 12 first batters to reach base, had been more effective, he would have been on the roster.
Three of the Angels’ top four relievers -- closer Francisco Rodriguez (.213 batting average against), Scot Shields (.199) and Brendan Donnelly (.213) -- had success against left-handers, and Christiansen won’t displace them or Kelvim Escobar in key late-game situations.
“Jason was on our roster in a couple of playoff scenarios,” Scioscia said. “But with our power right-handed arms, combined with guys in the middle, we think can get left-handers out, [having a left-hander] didn’t carry as much weight.”
Christiansen, who had a 2.45 earned-run average in 12 appearances but gave up six hits in 13 at-bats to left-handers for a .462 average, was disappointed, “but I’m not going to let it get me down,” he said. “You look at the track record for those guys, and they’ve had great success against lefties. My numbers this year weren’t that great.”
There were no surprises on the Angels’ 25-man playoff roster -- outfielder Jeff DaVanon and third-string catcher Josh Paul will join catcher Jose Molina, first baseman Casey Kotchman, third baseman Robb Quinlan and utility infielder Maicer Izturis on the bench.
But there was a mild surprise in the rotation order when Scioscia selected Byrd, the veteran right-hander, to start Game 3 against left-hander Randy Johnson in Yankee Stadium on Friday night and Washburn, who is 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees, to start Game 4.
Scioscia said the Angels wanted to give Washburn “as much time as we can” to recover from the inflamed forearm that sidelined him for two weeks in September, but Washburn said his arm “feels fine.”
Byrd was thrilled to learn he would oppose Johnson -- “The game can’t get any bigger in my mind,” he said -- and was not overly concerned about the Yankee lineup. Byrd gave up three runs in seven innings of his only start against New York this season.
About the only way to curtail the Angels’ wildly successful running game, Yankee catcher Jorge Posada figures, is to shut down the Angel hitters.
“You have to keep those guys off the bases and then see what happens,” Posada said. “We’re not going to change the way we do things around here just because they run.”
The Angels were successful on 21 of 27 stolen-base attempts against the Yankees, and it wasn’t just speedster Chone Figgins who made life miserable for Posada and backup John Flaherty.
Orlando Cabrera, Steve Finley and Adam Kennedy each had three steals against the Yankees to supplement Figgins’ team-high six steals.
Right-hander Mike Mussina, New York’s Game 1 starter, said Yankee pitchers needed to do their part to combat the Angels’ aggressive style.
Yankee Manager Joe Torre said right-hander Chien-Ming Wang would start Game 2 and right-hander Shawn Chacon would start Game 4.
“We just felt that he has pitched well enough, long enough, to deserve the shot,” Torre said of Wang, who was 8-5 with a 4.02 ERA in his rookie season but did not face the Angels.
Chacon pitched six scoreless innings against the Angels in the Yankees’ 8-7 victory July 30 but did not receive a decision.
Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter said his right knee was not bothering him one day after he bruised it in the first inning while trying to stretch a single into a double at Fenway Park.