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Monday, September 14, 2009

Hunter's Blast Tips Angels Past Chicago: Angels 3, White Sox 2

Mark Buehrle pitched a quality start plus, but Torii Hunter's leadoff homer in the seventh provided the Angels their margin of victory. Considering Scott Kazmir lasted six innings and threw an unbelievable 118 pitches; despite his reputation, the pitch count was in fact high for him, the highest all year; he's on pace for his usual ten or so games annually with over 110 pitches, and this was his sixth game with 118 or more pitches thrown.

Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen, and Brian Fuentes closed the game out without incident, though I did notice one odd tic about Mike Scioscia's bullpen utilization. Scioscia let Jepsen start the ninth, faced one batter (the right-handed Alex Rios) — and then after the White Sox pinch-hit lefty A.J. Pierzynski for Ramon Castro, Scioscia brought in Brian Fuentes. Jepsen's platoon splits against lefties — an otherworldly .355/.406/.430 — stand in stark contrast to his death-on-righties numbers of .209/.258/.244, so it was somewhat justifiable. What's scary is how pedestrian Fuentes has been against righties, .269/.364/.462 versus .234/.290/.281 against his fellow southpaws. Nursing this pitching staff through the ninth inning is almost certainly going to tax everyone's patience, especially considering Fuentes is allowing a .365 average against overall in September.

ESPN RecapAngels recap

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Considering that lefties Fuentes and Oliver and righties Jepsen and Bulger have all been equally effective (basically) I don't see any reason why Scioscia can't play match up in the last three innings from here on out. A few years back in Colorado when Fuentes had his closer title stripped, almost every account had him acting like a total professional about the situation. I don't see him causing a distraction if he doesn't close out every single game.
Well, okay. But what if Fuentes gives up a hit to a lefty and a top-notch right-handed hitter comes to the plate to face him?
Well, if Jepsen or Bulger are still available, bring 'em in. Otherwise, take your chances I suppose. I understand he won't be doing any strict platoon match ups. I just hope he takes advantage of it when an obvious opportunity presents itself.

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