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BECKER BLOGS BASEBALL 2009-05-01


BECKER BLOGS BASEBALL 2009-05-01
BALTIMORE

A change in Justin Speier's pitching delivery has the Angels reliever throwing with more command and greater success.

But to Manager Mike Scioscia, Speier looks like the reliever of old, which is a good thing.

Using a slide step all the time, Speier pitched a scoreless seventh inning during the Angels' 3-2 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday. After entering the game with a runner on second base and nobody out, Speier struck out Felix Pie and Lou Montanez before getting Brian Roberts to line out to first.

It was Speier's fifth scoreless inning in his past six outings. Speier seems to have outgrown his problems from last season, when he went 2-8 with a 5.03 ERA and was left off the playoff roster.

"He was having some rough spots last year, but it's still in him," Scioscia said. "He feels very comfortable and confident right now where his mechanics are. A little shorter, more aggressive load has given him a cleaner path to where he needs to make pitches.

"His command is better. It hasn't taken anything away from his fastball. In some ways, it's not as high a leg kick, but in other ways, it's creating more momentum, which is allowing him to use his lower half better."

Said Speier, who has a career 4.04 ERA: "I've used and pitched with (the slide step) over the last 10 years, but not repeatedly. I think it's just better to maintain the same delivery. That's what me and (pitching coach Mike Butcher) have been working on. It helped out."

* * *

THIS TIME, A TRIPLE

One day after being thrown out at third on what Scioscia called "bad baserunning," Kendry Morales slid safely into third base with a run-scoring triple to center in the fourth inning. The hit tied the game at 1.

In the seventh inning of Tuesday's game against the Orioles, two Angels baserunners were thrown out trying to stretch doubles into triples. The inning ended when Morales, who hesitated between second and third, was gunned out by a wide margin.

Asked Tuesday if his team followed the unwritten Baseball rule, "Never make the first or last out at third base," Scioscia bristled.

"We don't have that rule," he said. "Seriously. I have heard of that, but we do not have that here. When you think you can get to third base, you go."

* * *

TEIXEIRA JERSEY

A quick scan of the crowd at Camden Yards revealed several popular T-shirt jerseys. There's Cal Ripken's No. 8, and Eddie Murray's No. 33 and even Koji Uehara's No. 19.

But the real find Wednesday was the man wearing the No. 25 Mark Teixeira jersey . . . in Orioles colors. Teixeira, of course, never played for the Orioles. But he did grow up in nearby Severna Park, Md., and spurned a long-term deal with the Orioles this offseason to sign with the big-market club just up Interstate 95.

* * *

QUICK HITS

Torii Hunter's seventh-inning home run was his eighth for the month of April, one shy of the April club record of nine set by Brian Downing in 1987. Hunter hit 21 homers all of last season. One negative: he is 2 for 20 with runners in scoring position.

Scioscia said Dustin Moseley (elbow tightness) and Darren Oliver (strained left triceps) should return from the disabled Sunday and Monday, respectively.

* * *

BIG NUMBER

6 . . . Years between major league victories for Angels starter Shane Loux


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 1, 2009

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