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07/05/08 8:39 PM ET
Powerless No. 3 spot wins Angels three
Light-hitting Izturis, Aybar batting third has sparked offense
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- After scoring just two runs in four games against the Dodgers and A's last week, the Angels decided they would make a major change with their lineup on Tuesday. They began batting Maicer Izturis or Erick Aybar -- both shortstops with little power, but great bat control -- in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, and it paid off. In the three games (all wins) since the two began starting in the third spot, the Angels have scored 20 runs. The Angels have also scored at least five runs in all three games, which is their longest such streak since a three-game series in Boston from April 22-24, where they also scored at least five runs every game. Los Angeles continued to use its new-look lineup on Saturday, as Izturis was slated as the third batter against the Blue Jays and Roy Halladay. "I think Izzy is very good at extending innings," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's an on-base guy and works counts, and with two outs and nobody on Izzy can extend innings. That way, you can make two-out runs with one-swing with the guys coming up next." The Angels have benefited in the past three games from those one swing runs, with five homers over that span. Scioscia said the team isn't built on home runs, but outfielders Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter and Garret Anderson still provide power. That's why he said it's important for the third batter in the lineup to get on base and set the table for the power hitters in the middle of the lineup. Izturis and Aybar have combined to bat 3-for-11 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the No. 3 spot. "I think it gives us a situational look," Scioscia said "I think they're doing a good job. The thing about the guy batting third in our lineup is to extend innings to get Vlad, Torii or Garret up there, even with two outs, and keep innings going." Two-out rallies have bolstered the Angels in their past three games, as 10 of the 20 runs scored came with two-outs. It's something Scioscia said he'd like to see continue and that's why he's going to keep using his current lineup even if it is a little unusual. "I think this is a look right now we're going to go with," Scioscia said. "But we have talked about it before so it's not like we hadn't envisioned it."
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.