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Joe Saunders to start Game 2 of ALCS for Angels

October 14, 2009 | 11:09 am

Saunders Manager Mike Scioscia today named right-hander John Lackey as his Game 1 starter for the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, and left-hander Joe Saunders, who has not pitched since the Oct. 4 regular-season finale in Oakland, will start Game 2.

Right-hander Jered Weaver, who has been much more effective at home than on the road this season, will start Game 3 in Anaheim, and left-hander Scott Kazmir will start Game 4. Lackey would come back to start Game 5 in Anaheim if necessary.

"A lot went into it; it wasn't just one thing," Scioscia said today before the Angels left the stadium for their flight to New York. "It makes sense for Joe to pitch Game 2 in that park and to have Weaver and Kazmir pitch Games 3 and 4. This is going to give us the best environment for these guys to give us a chance to win. Joe has the tools to pitch in that stadium."

Namely, Saunders is left-handed; the Yankees have four switch-hitters in their lineup, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Melky Cabrera, and all are more powerful from the left side. And the ball seems to carry much better to right field than left field in the new Yankee Stadium.

Saunders also features a power sinker that could match up well against Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, New York's top right-handed batters.

By the time Saunders takes the mound for Game 2 Saturday night, it will have been 17 days since his last start, when he allowed two runs and six hits in five innings of an Oct. 4 victory in Oakland. Since returning from a shoulder injury in late August, Saunders went 7-0 with a 2.55 ERA in eight starts. He threw a 25-pitch simulated game Tuesday.

"He has a history of being effective with a couple of extra days off," Scioscia said. "It's not a perfect world. You're going to have layoffs this time of year. But he's stayed as sharp as he could."

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For more on the Angels and Yankees, check out the Angels Unplugged blog.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

Photo: Joe Saunders. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press