Garland aces video studies

Times Staff Writer

What helped kill the Angels in October 2005 made them stronger Saturday, as Jon Garland rebounded from an erratic opening month with his new team to throw eight superb innings in a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium.

The win could be costly, though: Leadoff hitter Chone Figgins, who is batting .306 with 17 runs and 11 stolen bases, was pulled after the eighth inning because of a right hamstring injury and underwent an MRI test after the game.

It appears Figgins might be going on the disabled list as middle infielder Sean Rodriguez was removed in the second inning of triple-A Salt Lake's game Saturday night and was believed headed to Anaheim.

Figgins would be the third infielder lost to injury this season, following Howie Kendrick (left hamstring strain) and Maicer Izturis (lower-back strain).

"With hamstrings, you're always concerned," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Sometimes you get a cramp and you're fine in a day or two, sometimes it's a slight pull and it takes a little longer, and sometimes you're where Howie is, and it takes longer than that."

The Angels were also concerned about Garland's shoulder, but not the one he uses to throw.

In the wake of the Angels' 14-2 loss to Oakland on Monday, in which Garland gave up seven runs and 10 hits in six innings, pitching coach Mike Butcher tapped into the team's video archives for some of Garland's greatest hits.

Out came Game 3 of the 2005 American League Championship Series, when Garland gave up two runs and four hits in a complete-game victory over the Angels that gave the Chicago White Sox a 2-1 advantage in a series they eventually won.

"I took the DVD home and watched it," Garland said. "I let it sink into my brain."

Comparing Garland's 2005 mechanics to those of his recent starts, Butcher noticed the right-hander was opening up his front shoulder too early.

Garland corrected the flaw Saturday and gave up only one run and three hits, striking out one and walking one. Francisco Rodriguez retired the side in order in the ninth for his 12th save.

"Butch spotted it first," Garland (4-3) said. "I was probably showing every hitter what was coming. I turned my left shoulder in a bit, and every pitch was down. I got ahead of guys and threw more strikes."

After giving up Luke Scott's run-scoring single in the second inning, Garland retired the next 13 batters before Melvin Mora's one-out double in the seventh. Garland responded to the hit by retiring the last five batters he faced.

The Angels took advantage of Daniel Cabrera's control problems to score twice in the sixth inning, as Brandon Wood was hit by a pitch, Figgins walked, Reggie Willits hit a run-scoring single and Gary Matthews Jr., mired in a two-for-26 slump, hit a sacrifice fly.

Figgins singled to left field to open the eighth inning, took second on Willits' sacrifice bunt and third on a wild pitch. With the infield in, Matthews grounded to second baseman Brian Roberts, who threw home.

Figgins went on contact and beat catcher Ramon Hernandez's tag with a hook slide, but his right ankle clipped umpire Paul Emmel.

Figgins hobbled to the dugout and was unable to play second base in the ninth inning, forcing Scioscia to move shortstop Erick Aybar to second, third baseman Wood to shortstop and insert Robb Quinlan at third.

"His hammy tightened up a little bit," Scioscia said of Figgins. "He said he cramped up."

Figgins was unavailable for comment, and it was unclear whether he suffered the injury running the bases or when he collided with Emmel.

The plate umpire also asserted himself in the seventh, ejecting Garret Anderson after the Angels' left fielder flipped his bat toward the dugout in response to Emmel's called third strike.

Anderson went 0 for 3, his average falling to .218.


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