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Notes: Offense seeking a spark

Notes: Offense seeking a spark

ANAHEIM -- The Angels are in familiar territory against the White Sox as they look for a way to inject some life into a sagging offense.

Entering Saturday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the club is hitting just .174 with the middle of the order finding it particularly tough to buy a hit. Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Bengie Molina are a combined 3-for-33 through the first three games of the series as the team has scored a total of six runs.

On Saturday, in an effort to generate a spark and possibly fuel the rest of the order, Casey Kotchman was inserted as the designated hitter and dropped into the six-hole.

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"The guys that we need to hit -- to get this offense going -- are already in the lineup," manager Mike Scioscia said of adding a left-handed bat. "Casey is a guy that we think can work, but we need other guys in the lineup to do something."

It is Kotchman's first appearance of the postseason, but the part-time first baseman is not totally new to the experience. Kotchman was on the playoff roster a year ago and appeared in two games against the Red Sox with one at-bat.

As is his style, Saturday's start didn't faze him.

"I don't think," Kotchman said. "I just go out and play and see what happens."

Kotchman had two separate stints with the Angels this season and stuck after his second recall on Aug. 2, hitting seven homers, including two against the Devil Rays on Aug. 7 with a grand slam.

His power is to right field, but Kotchman has the ability to hit to all fields and will look for a pitch to hit.

"I'll go up there and try to give my team a chance," Kotchman said.

Tough times: Bartolo Colon has gone from ace to observer during the ALCS, which may extend further if the Angels advance to the World Series as his right shoulder has yet to improve sufficiently so he can resume throwing.

Colon led the American League with 21 victories, but he hasn't thrown a pitch since the second inning of Game 5 of the AL Division Series against the Yankees.

"He's definitely bummed; he's down," Scioscia said. "He knows what our needs are. He also knows our needs as a team with him as lead dog. He feels very down without being able to contribute, but he also knows we wouldn't be here if it weren't for him."

Great starts: The Angels have not performed well offensively, but part of the credit must go to the White Sox starting rotation. Only two outs over three games have been recorded by the Sox bullpen and Friday's starter, Jon Garland, was a model of efficiency.

"His first pitch strike percentage and second pitch strike percentage was off the chart," Scioscia said. "At times we didn't get the looks we needed because we got into tough counts."

That has also allowed the White Sox to keep their bullpen fresh with only four games remaining in the series.

Thinking small: While the White Sox hold the edge in power over the Angels, neither club is built around the home run.

The White Sox, like the Angels, look to pressure a defense with aggressive baserunning and situational hitting, which is a slight departure from many of today's power-laden lineups, but Scioscia doesn't believe small ball is out of style.

"I don't think those values ever left the game," Scioscia said. "They might have been less prevalent in the time when home runs went crazy in the '90s, and as we talk about our runs as we started to get into the playoffs in 2002, I think there was a lot of attention put on the little techniques of hitting, situational hitting."

Looking ahead: Left-handed reliever Jason Christiansen, who was left off the postseason roster, has been getting in some work in case the Angels need an extra arm in a possible World Series appearance, Scioscia said.

Mike Scarr 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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