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Izturis ready for ALDS action

Izturis ready for ALDS action

OAKLAND -- Maicer Izturis was recovering from surgery on his left thumb at this time last season, hoping the Angels would go deep in the postseason so he might be available for the World Series.

"I was hoping I'd get back in time," Izturis said. "It healed fast."

That didn't happen, of course, for a laundry list of reasons -- including, in Mike Scioscia's fertile mind, Izturis not being available to multitask against the Red Sox in an American League Division Series that ended in four games. It was another excruciating exit for the Angels.

"He could have been a big X factor," Scioscia said of the versatile infielder with the sure hands and productive bat that comes alive with runners in scoring position. "Izzy would have been very important to what we tried to do.

"Not having him was obviously tough. I think he can do a lot to our lineup -- and we'll see it."

Izturis and Howard Kendrick have been sharing second base in highly productive fashion since Kendrick's return from Triple-A Salt Lake, his batting malaise cured, on July 4.

Blessed with the softest hands on the club, Izturis has made only four errors in 95 combined starts at second and shortstop while setting career highs in runs (75), hits (116), homers (eight) and RBIs (65) over 114 games.

The odd thing about the platoon is that Izturis has punished lefties -- even though he rarely sees them.

Recovering from a knee bruise sustained tripping over Rangers first baseman Andruw Jones on Wednesday, Izturis is batting an even .300 -- including .358 against southpaws in 53 at-bats.

"That's my natural side," Izturis said. "I didn't start switch-hitting until I came into pro ball with Cleveland [in 1998]. I feel the same now from both sides. As long as I get to play, I'm happy."

Kendrick figures to get the Game 1 start of the upcoming ALDS against the Red Sox, who are sending lefty Jon Lester out against John Lackey.

But Izturis' availability -- and ability -- could come into play. In pressure situations, with runners in scoring position, he has a history of elevating his game.

Izturis is a .327 career hitter in 416 at-bats with runners in scoring position. He's at .302 this season in 106 opportunities.

Joe Saunders makes his tuneup for Game 4 in Boston when he faces A's right-hander Edgar Gonzalez in Sunday's season finale.

Pitching matchup
LAA: LHP Joe Saunders (15-7, 4.62 ERA)
Saunders had a shutout going entering the seventh against the A's on Sunday when it unraveled, with four hits, a walk and a wild pitch producing three runs. He finished with the win, his sixth in seven starts, yielding three earned runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out three men. Saunders has allowed three or fewer earned runs in his past seven outings, since recovering from shoulder issues. Saunders is 7-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 career outings against the Athletics and 3-1, 2.73 in four outings in Oakland.

OAK: RHP Edgar Gonzalez (0-4, 5.51 ERA)
Gonzalez was Oakland's scheduled starter for Sunday, but before Saturday's game Geren suggested that he might treat the finale "like a bullpen game." Among those who'd be considered to get the ball first and work the first two innings are lefties Jerry Blevins and Brad Kilby and righty John Meloan.

Tidbits
Brian Fuentes' 48 saves are an AL record for a pitcher with a new club, surpassing Joe Borowski's 45 with the Indians in 2007. Randy Myers holds the Major League mark with 53 for the Cubs in '93. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2009 Angels, 2007 Tigers and 1930 Cardinals are the only teams in history with 10 or more players that produced at least 50 RBIs. ... Since the start of the 2004 season, the Angels are the Majors' best road team with their 274-211 record. Their 47 road wins this season lead the AL. They won 50 on the road -- and 50 at home -- last year.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSW

On radio
• KLAA 830, KWKW 1330 (Español)

Lyle Spencer 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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