Scioscia disputes criticism from Detroit about lineup decisions
Sports talk radio in Detroit is abuzz with criticism of Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, who pulled Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver from their scheduled starts against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday and Wednesday and arranged to start five rookies in each game.
The Angels started Tyler Chatwood in Tuesday’s 10-3 loss to the Rangers, and rookie Garrett Richards will start Wednesday’s season finale. Wednesday night’s lineup also includes September call-ups Gil Velazquez at second, Efren Navarro at first and Jeremy Moore in left field.
The Tigers need the Angels to win to have any shot of winning home-field advantage and avoiding the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.
But Scioscia bristled at any suggestion that he wasn’t honoring the integrity of the game by sitting so many regulars, saying Santana “has battled forearm stiffness all year,” and Weaver “has had multiple issues with his upper back, which flared up recently.”
First baseman Mark Trumbo was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot Monday, and second baseman Howie Kendrick sprained his left wrist Tuesday night.
The regulars and semi-regulars in Wednesday’s lineup are Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, Alberto Callaspo, Bobby Wilson and Mike Trout.
“We’re putting out the guys who are healthy,” Scioscia said. “We absolutely understand how important the integrity of the game is. If Howie, Torii and Maicer were healthy, they’d be playing.”
Weaver, who went 18-8 with a 2.41 earned-run average, threw a career-high 235 2/3 innings, but he told reporters Tuesday that “this is the best I’ve felt at the end of a year in a long time.”
Santana, who went 11-12 with a 3.38 ERA and threw a career-high 228 2/3 innings, suffered a sprained right elbow in the spring of 2009, but he did not miss a start this season.
But both showed signs of fatigue at various points. The Angels recently signed Weaver to a five-year, $85-million extension, and Santana is signed for $11.2 million next season and has a $13-million option for 2013.
“If they were not at a heightened risk, they’d be pitching the last two days, and that’s the bottom line,” Scioscia said. “When a pitcher is fatigued, that’s when the risk is greater.
“These guys have thrown a lot this year. They’re like horses you’ve taken the whip to, and now they’re physically beat. They might have one more start in them, but I don’t know how effective they’d be.”
The American League Central champion Tigers are one game behind the AL West-winning Rangers in the race for home-field advantage in the division series.
The team with the better record will have home-field advantage against the Boston Red Sox or Tampa Bay Rays, who are battling for the wild card. The other team will open the division series in New York against the AL East-winning Yankees.
Because Detroit won the head-to-head series against Texas, it would earn the tiebreaker if the teams finish with the best records, so the Rangers have to finish ahead of the Tigers to win home field in the first round.
The conspiracy theory in Detroit is that the Angels are sticking it to the Tigers as payback for Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen showing up Weaver by celebrating excessively after hitting home runs against the Angels on July 31.
Nonsense, Scioscia said.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” Scioscia said, “but it was the right one.”
The Angels lineup: SS Erick Aybar, RF Mike Trout, CF Peter Bourjos, DH Vernon Wells, 3B Alberto Callaspo, LF Jeremy Moore, C Bobby Wilson, 1B Efren Navarro, 2B Gil Velazquez, P Garrett Richards.
The Rangers lineup: 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Elvis Andrus, CF Josh Hamilton, 3B Michael Young, DH Adrian Beltre, C Mike Napoli, RF Nelson Cruz, LF David Murphy, 1B Mitch Moreland, P Matt Harrison.
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photo: Angels Manager Mike Scioscia. Credit: Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire