10/16/09 7:37 PM ET
Scioscia sticks with familiar in Game 1
Lineup the same he has employed all season vs. left-handers
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"We like the way this lineup sets up," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It gives us a couple of table-setters in front of Bobby [Abreu], with Erick [Aybar] hitting ninth and Chone [Figgins] leading off.
"Abreu is what I call a swing man, a guy who can set the table or drive in runs. We like the bats we have coming up behind him, starting with Torii [Hunter] and Vlad [Guerrero]. Then we have a couple more run producers behind them."
Sciosica calls this his deepest lineup since the 2002 Angels bashed their way past the Yankees and Twins en route to a World Series triumph against the Giants.
Figgins, who scored 114 runs as the leadoff catalyst, didn't get a base hit in the AL Division Series against Boston, but he was robbed several times by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Figgins' full-count walk against Jonathan Papelbon on Sunday in Boston prolonged what would become an epic two-out comeback, punctuated by Abreu's double off the Green Monster for one run and Guerrero's two-run single for the tying and winning runs.
Behind Guerrero, in the No. 5 spot, is former Yankee outfielder Juan Rivera, who broke out with a career year (25 homers, 88 RBIs) while batting .287.
Hitting sixth is switch-hitting Kendry Morales, who had a breakthrough year, hitting .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs. The right side is his weaker side, but Morales has picked up the pace against lefties in the second half.
No. 7 hitter Howard Kendrick has been a Sabathia nemesis, with eight hits in 12 career at-bats against the Yankees' ace.
"He's tough," Kendrick said. "You know he's going to come right at you, throwing strikes, so you have to be ready.
"You can't rely on what you did in the past. It helps your confidence, sure. I like playing in New York. They have an amazing team. I also like playing Boston."
Kendrick is a .426 career hitter against the Yankees in 108 at-bats with a .556 slugging percentage. They've held him to a .310 average this season.
The weakest link in the Angels' lineup is catcher Jeff Mathis, but he hit .333 against Boston after batting .211 during the regular season.
Aybar has been an electric presence offensively all season, leading the team with his .312 average featuring nine triples. He hit .325 against lefties.
Hunter (.336 with a .578 slugging percentage), Rivera (.333, .645) were the Angels' most destructive hitters against southpaws. Rivera had 12 homers in 141 at-bats against lefties.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.