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Vlad remains in cleanup role for Game 3
Vlad remains in cleanup role for Game 3
By Lyle Spencer
ANAHEIM -- For now, at least, Angels manager Mike Scioscia is sticking with the hand he's been dealt.
With Game 3 at Angel Stadium approaching, Scioscia held firm on Monday with Vladimir Guerrero as his cleanup man after the celebrated slugger left eight runners on base in a 4-3 loss in 13 innings in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series in New York.
Down 0-2 and needing at least two wins at home to send the big show back to the Bronx, Scioscia had Guerrero batting fourth, between Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera, against southpaw Andy Pettitte.
"If there were ways to reshuffle a deck that was going to make you more productive, certainly it's something we would look at," Scioscia said. "Right now, I think there's a lot of focus on Vlad. But we've got a lot of guys we need to get into their game on the offensive side swinging bats.
"So, if there [were] some pieces to really reshuffle -- some guys that were really killing the ball, some guys that we said, 'Hey, we need to get these guys in more of an RBI situation' -- of course we'd consider it. That's not the case right now."
It isn't saying much, but Guerrero has been as productive in the series and the postseason as the men hitting behind him, Kendry Morales and Rivera.
"I think whenever you start swinging the bat well and you have some options, you would consider it," Scioscia said. "Right now, we have a lot of guys that need to get into their game, and reshuffling this is not going to have a positive impact at this stage right now."
Scioscia has seen some positive signs from Guerrero, whose game-winning hit against Boston's Jonathan Papelbon in Game 3 of the ALDS was the biggest single blow of the postseason for his AL West champions.
"In Game 1, Vlad hit a ball hard to left-center [for a double, scoring the Angels' only run against CC Sabathia]," Scioscia said. "Vlad's had a couple of good swings and just missed.
"As far as production is concerned, I don't know if our guys are what you'd call comfortable in the batter's box. For some of the guys, it's three at-bats, for some eight. So I don't know if it's a huge sample size to say this guy is locked in and this guy isn't."
Chone Figgins, who reached base four times in Game 2 and stroked what would have been the game-winning hit if not for Alex Rodriguez's tying homer in the 11th, revived his game in Yankee Stadium, but there wasn't enough productive activity behind him.
A driving force all season behind Figgins, Bobby Abreu is 0-for-9 with two intentional walks and four strikeouts in the series. Hunter is hitting .333 but doesn't have an RBI.
Along with Guerrero (.182 in the series), Rivera (.125) and Morales (.125, one RBI) are hoping to recover their strokes and start mashing as they did in the regular season.
Rounding out the lineup in the 7-8-9 spots are Howard Kendrick (.333), catcher Mike Napoli (hitless in four at-bats) and Erick Aybar (.125).
The Angels were 3-for-15 in Game 2 with runners in scoring position, a .200 average. They led the Majors with their .297 average for the season in those situations, and Scioscia thinks that was the biggest factor in returning home down 0-2.
"[The Yankees] brought some arms in who did a good job with guys in scoring position," Scioscia said. "We missed some pitches. When Torii hit into a double play [after Figgins' RBI single in the 11th], he had a ball to hit, but pulled off it and bit and hit it off the end of the bat for a 5-4-3.
"These guys [the Yankees] have made good pitches. When you get 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position and get three hits, that can happen and you can win a game. But you can see the impact it would have made if we'd gotten one more hit that we didn't get."
The Angels are batting .154 with a .205 slugging percentage and .258 on-base percentage in the two games, the Yankees having handled their offense thus far the way the Halos shut down the Red Sox in the ALDS.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.