Scott Kazmir looks for better results in Oakland; Hideki Matsui not in Angels' lineup
Scott Kazmir returns to the scene of the grime Friday night. The Angels left-hander's start against the Oakland Athletics will be his first in the Oakland Coliseum since July 10, when he had the worst start of his career, giving up 13 earned runs and 11 hits in five innings of a 15-1 loss.
Asked what he would tell Kazmir in light of the July 10 shellacking, Manager Mike Scioscia said, "Make better pitches. He got hit last time because he got behind in counts and had to make pitches against guys who were swinging the bats well. No matter what the stadium, no matter what the lineup, he has to get command of counts and bring his secondary pitches into the game earlier."
Hideki Matsui, the Angels' best hitter in recent weeks, is not in the lineup against Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez, something of a surprise considering that Matsui hit a game-winning two-run home run against another left-hander, Seattle's Jason Vargas, Wednesday night in Safeco Field. Matsui, who is hitting .208 against lefties this season, has been benched often against left-handers in the second half.
"Gonzalez has a little different stuff than Vargas," Scioscia said. "He has a power breaking ball. And with a day game Saturday, we want to keep some of these guys fresh and mix it up a bit."
Right fielder Torii Hunter will start at designated hitter, but Bobby Abreu, hitless with five strikeouts in nine at-bats against Gonzalez, will start in left field. Matsui has one hit, a home run, in three career at-bats against Gonzalez.
When a Japanese reporter pointed this out to Scioscia, the manager said, "Bobby works counts and brings a different element to the lineup. And he had a day off Wednesday."
The football field markings from Thursday night's Raiders-Seahawks game are still visible, but the area where the game was actually played appears to be the least chewed-up section of the baseball field.
Center field, which is covered by the bleachers that are rolled out for Raiders game, was brown and splotchy and could present the biggest hazard this weekend. The grounds crew spent much of Friday afternoon going over the outfield grass with heavy rollers.
"The infield is fine, but the outfield gets beat up pretty good," Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke said. "There usually aren't holes, but it gets really fast because there isn't as much grass, and when you roll it to get it back into shape, it gets hard. You have to know the ball is going to get by you quick in the gaps."
-- Mike DiGiovanna in Oakland