09/09/10 3:00 AM ET
Scioscia: Despite slump, Angels are battling
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
"Those are guys going up and battling the whole way," Scioscia said. "Dugout guys are trying, some guys are trying too hard ... We're having a lot of issues with trying to get productive on the offensive side."
The Angels are six games under .500 at 67-73 and avoided being swept at home for a second consecutive series on Wednesday, beating the Indians, 4-3, in 16 innings.
The offense has been the team's biggest problem, giving its starting pitchers no backup. The Angels have scored one run or fewer in 11 of their last 23.
"We haven't been very good at coming back when we're getting behind in the last probably 15 games or so, but it's not because of lack of effort, or lack of desire, or guys not getting after it," Scioscia said. "It's really just a function of a lot of guys are having issues in the batter's box right now."
Matsui has been hot, but sits in finale
ANAHEIM -- Besides Torii Hunter, who's on an eight-game hit streak with homers in three of his last four games, Hideki Matsui has been the Halos' hottest hitter in an otherwise stagnant lineup.
Since Aug. 14, Matsui is batting .403, the third-best mark in the American League over that span. His average has jumped 23 points and he has 17 RBIs in his last 18 starts.
On Wednesday, Matsui was out of the lineup for the finale of a three-game set at Angel Stadium. The Angels have an off-day Thursday.
"I think there's a lot of things," manager Mike Scioscia said. "First, Hideki's been playing a lot and Bobby [Abreu] needs to DH. We want to see if we can get Bobby going, to keep his bat in the lineup. And I think on the defensive side, to put Reggie [Willits] in left field and [Peter] Bourjos in center field, and Torii in right will help [Scott] Kazmir a little better. He's more prone to fly balls."
Mark Trumbo, the 24-year-old who hit 36 home runs at Triple-A Salt Lake, put on another long-ball show in an early batting practice with Hank Conger and Brandon Wood, but neither Conger nor Trumbo made it into the lineup.
"Obviously his power is legitimate, so that part of it we're aware of," Scioscia said.
Scioscia said pinch-hitting would be a hard task for a young player used to playing every day, but he again offered no plan for his usage of Trumbo.
Shields held out, Pineiro on the mend
ANAHEIM -- Scot Shields said he was fine on Wednesday after he felt elbow tightness on Tuesday night, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he would hold out the reliever going into an off-day just to be cautious.
Maicer Izturis' return this season is looking less and less likely. On the disabled list with a strained left forearm, he has yet to swing a bat or throw, but has taken ground balls.
"He had a significant injury, he's got some work to do to get into full baseball activities," Scioscia said. "We might be up against it at the back-end."
Joel Pineiro felt fine Wednesday after his simulated game on Tuesday and could be activated this weekend for a relief appearance before rejoining the rotation next week. Pineiro missed all of August with a strained left oblique.
Plenty of playoff ball for Minor League affiliates
ANAHEIM -- Two Angels Minor League affiliates begin their respective playoffs today, and one is one the brink of clinching a postseason spot.
The Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (78-62, 39-31 in the second half) won the second-half South Division title in the California league. They open their postseason Wednesday at High Desert (Mariners).
Class A Cedar Rapids finished the regular season with the best record in the system at 82-56. It won the Midwest League Western Division title in the first half with a 43-25 mark, and it opens the postseason against Clinton (Mariners) on Wednesday in Iowa.
The Rookie ball Orem Owlz (37-36, 18-17 in the second half) have two games remaining in the regular season, and their magic number is down to 1. The Owlz would have to drop both games and the Casper Ghosts (Rockies) would have to win their two remaining games for Orem to miss the Pioneer League playoffs.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.