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Washburn impresses teammates

Washburn impresses teammates

CHICAGO -- Lost in the haze of the disputed home-plate umpire's call that led to their 2-1 loss to the White Sox in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series was one important development for the Angels.

Jarrod Washburn is back.

The left-hander, who missed his start in the AL Division Series against the Yankees because of strep throat that had him bed-bound with high fever and unable to eat solid food for two days, returned to the mound Wednesday night in U.S. Cellular Field and helped his team.

Washburn lasted only 4 2/3 innings and 77 pitches, but he gave up only one run, which was unearned, and departed with the game tied, 1-1, and the bases loaded after he hit Tadahito Iguchi with a pitch. Washburn was bailed out of the jam when reliever Brendan Donnelly came in and struck out Jermaine Dye on three pitches.

Considering the fact that Washburn had to be sequestered from his teammates two days earlier, the Angels seemed very impressed with his effort.

"The guy was practically on his death bed a couple of days ago and still went out there," Angels first baseman Darin Erstad said. "Unfortunately, all year we haven't scored a stinkin' run for him."

There were some rumors flying around that Washburn wouldn't be able to answer the bell for Game 2, even after Angels manager Mike Scioscia had penciled him in Tuesday. But he warmed up in right field and took the mound, the first time he'd pitched in a game since a two-inning tuneup stint in Texas in the last series of the regular season.

Washburn said he figured he might be a little rusty, and it showed right away.

White Sox leadoff man Scott Podsednik slapped a ground ball right at Washburn, who gloved the ball routinely, gathered himself, turned toward first base, and, well, let him explain it.

"I fielded it cleanly and threw it into the stands, almost," Washburn said. "It was the worst pitch I threw all day."

Erstad leapt but couldn't come close to the ball, Podsednik motored into second base, was moved to third on Iguchi's sacrifice bunt and scored on a fielder's choice by Dye.

Because of the error, the run was unearned, and Washburn didn't give up anything else.

He hit up to 92 mph on the radar gun, his slider seemed to be breaking as well as it had during the regular season, when Washburn ranked fourth in the AL with a 3.20 ERA, and he matched a stellar Mark Buehrle pitch for pitch for as long as he was in the game.

"I'm pretty tired and weak right now, but I threw pretty good, I think," Washburn said.

His teammates and manager said that was an understatement.

"After all those days off, I thought he did great," Bengie Molina said. "He showed a lot of heart."

Added reliever Scot Shields: "Jarrod threw the heck out of the ball coming out of being as sick as he was. He gave us some good quality innings."

Shields, like Washburn, couldn't resist hauling out the most popular joke of the evening, too.

"The only bad throw he made," Shields said, "was the one to first."

For a team that won the ALDS in five games, had to travel across the country twice in two nights and then from Southern California to Chicago on the third night, and lost its No. 1 starter, Bartolo Colon, to shoulder inflammation, the presence of Washburn is huge for the pitching staff.

That was one positive that could be taken out of the team's most tough loss of the year and what will surely be one of the most disputed ends to a playoff game in recent memory.

"I thought Wash did a great job, and his makeup is such that that's what you expect from Wash," Scioscia said.

"He felt fine physically as he started. He got a little wobbly as the inning got into the fifth, but he did what we needed him to do, put us in position to win that game or to set up our pen to win that game.

"Unfortunately, Buehrle, he was terrific. He matched four of our pitchers with what he did, and he pitched an outstanding ballgame."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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