06/24/10 9:40 PM ET
Angels expect Aybar back this weekend
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Jepsen back in top form
ANAHEIM -- Having spent two weeks with pitching coach Mike Butcher ironing out a few kinks in his delivery, Angels setup man Kevin Jepsen was feeling much better about things after getting two big outs in Wednesday night's 2-1 decision over the Dodgers at Angel Stadium."I was feeling fresh, feeling good," Jepsen said, having retired Manny Ramirez on a fly ball and struck out James Loney with a runner aboard to close down the eighth inning in support of Joel Pineiro. "I felt I could throw a strike at any point, pounding the zone. And even my balls were close, which was a good sign." Jepsen, who had a four-day break between appearances, has worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his past six outings, striking out 16 hitters in his past 12 2/3 innings. Three bad outings out of 30 -- at Boston, at Chicago (against the White Sox) and at Kansas City -- have inflated his ERA to 4.81. He allowed a total of 10 earned runs in those three games while getting five outs. Against the Dodgers, Jepsen had his fastball in the 95-96 mph range and his cut fastball was coming in where he likes it, at 90-91. Ramirez went the other way with a fastball, while Loney fanned on a cutter. "I'm trying to get to where I'm throwing that fastball down in the zone," Jepsen said. "Ideally, you'd like it on the corners, but getting extension and getting it down, that's the main thing. I'm feeling more like myself."
Scioscia praises Torre
ANAHEIM -- Postseason included, Mike Scioscia and Joe Torre have matched strategies in 97 games heading into Thursday night's season finale in the Angels-Dodgers Interleague series at Angel Stadium.Scioscia's Angels have gone 55-42 against Torre's Yankees and Dodgers, with six wins against three losses in postseason play while Torre was working in the South Bronx. "It's the players on the field," Scioscia said, dismissing any notion of holding some sort of advantage over Torre. There are similarities and parallels in their backgrounds. Both Torre and Scioscia began their careers as catchers in the National League, and they have molded their teams in the traditional NL style featuring a blend of power and speed along with power pitching and quality defense. "He was a much better player than I ever was," Scioscia said. "Joe was a terrific baseball player, an example of guys who were great baseball players who can relate to what it takes to win games. "I haven't analyzed how similar or distant we are in our philosophies. The way Joe does it, he's had a mentoring affect on all of us. You can see his guys get after it, roles develop. I don't think they get enough credit for how they ran the bases [in New York] in the late '90s up to now. It's an attention to detail Joe brings. His philosophies are very sound." Torre will be 70 on July 18. Scioscia, 51, said he "can't envision" managing at that age. "I'm not looking that far ahead for anything," Scioscia said. "What he's managed to do, what Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, guys like that have done, is they've kept that drive to compete. In their stomach, it's still there."
After getting the final out of Wednesday night's 2-1 Angels victory with a strike to second base to erase the Dodgers' Russell Martin, left fielder Juan Rivera was given Thursday night off against knuckleballer Charlie Haeger. In left, batting eighth for the Angels, was Reggie Willits. The Angels are 5-6 when Willits starts in the outfield, 1-2 when he starts in left. Rivera has come alive in June, in his familiar custom of heating up with the weather. He's batting .279 with a .508 slugging percentage this month compared to .208/.390 in May. ... Hideki Matsui (.333), Howard Kendrick (.322) and Torii Hunter (.316) all have picked it up in June. Hunter's 22 RBIs are second in the American League this month behind the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, with 25, through Wednesday. Kendrick, with 48 RBIs, is surpassed among second baseman in the Majors only by the Yankees' Robinson Cano, with 50. ... The Angels headed into the series finale having won 18 of the past 25 against the Dodgers, outscoring them by 121-69 during the stretch. ... Southpaw Jeff Francis will open for the Rockies on Friday night against Angels ace Jered Weaver, who won't face fellow Long Beach State Dirtbag Troy Tulowitzki. The Colorado shortstop is out for an estimated two months with a fractured left wrist. The former college teammates have never faced each other in a Major League game.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.