Notes: Left fielder, right place
Scioscia defends Anderson, positioning on Cano's Game 1 hit
ANAHEIM -- The playoffs are often defined by one play, and the Angels hope their opening round against the Yankees won't be remembered solely for Robinson Cano's three-run double.
The Yankees rookie lined a bases-clearing double over the head of Garret Anderson in left to put the Angels in an early hole in a 4-2 loss on Tuesday night. But it wasn't a bad play. In the Angels' mind, it was solid hit that exploited the defense.
"Garret ran a great route and got a great jump," manager Mike Scioscia said. "That ball was just hit well and that is the bottom line."
With the bases loaded and two out, the Angels had Anderson playing in to choke off a bloop single. Spray charts indicated that the left-handed-hitting Cano, if he hit the ball to left, would hit the ball shallow. But the second baseman hit the ball sharply and it easily cleared Anderson, who made chase before the Yankees took what proved to be a commanding lead in the game.
Scioscia said that if the situation had been in the later innings and protecting a lead, they would have played Anderson back to prevent the big hit. But under similar circumstances, Anderson would be positioned in the same spot.
The longtime Angel has suffered from a lower back strain this season and also patellar tendinitis in his left knee, but Anderson was back in left field for Game 2 Wednesday and the Angels said his condition is not an issue.
"When Garret is healthy, he is a good outfielder and he's healthy now," Scioscia said. "He hits the ball better when he's in the outfield. Bottom line is, he's a good outfielder."
The Angels rely heavily on spray charts and, while they admit it's not an exact science, they've been successful with them.
"That is part of the philosophy of putting guys in the right place. Most of the time it's going to be right, but it is not going to be perfect," Scioscia said.
Status quo: Paul Byrd is scheduled to pitch in Game 3 and Jarrod Washburn is slated for Game 4 if the best-of-five series goes that far, leaving Bartolo Colon for a possible fifth-game start.
Colon opened the series on Tuesday and took the loss while allowing four runs over seven innings. Byrd and Washburn are about as firm as it can get at this point, but if the Angels were to head to New York down 0-2, starting Colon on three days' rest in Game 4 would be an unlikely option, at best.
"That is a real long shot," Scioscia said. "We are really counting on good games from Paul and Wash. For Bart to come back on three days would be a situation, not that we wouldn't consider, but one we would have to weigh very seriously."
Byrd was somewhat of a surprise selection to go in the third game over Washburn, who has pitched well on the road throughout his career. Earlier this season, Washburn allowed a run over 7 2/3 innings to pick up the win at Yankee Stadium.
Washburn was bothered by tendinitis in his left forearm throughout the second half, but said the arm is not a problem.
"Right now, my arm feels good and I'm ready to go," Washburn said. "But I'll go along with the decision. I won't be a distraction."
Still, the Angels have him slotted for Game 4 to build in an extra day of rest.
"How you line them up, I think you could make cases for either way," Scioscia said. "One thing is, where Wash is, it's good to get him as much rest as you can with his elbow where it is."
Juggling: Darin Erstad and Bengie Molina flip-flopped in the batting order Wednesday, with Molina moving up to the five hole. It was more of a reflection on Molina, who homered Tuesday, than it was on Erstad, who struck out three times in the series opener.
"Bengie has really been swinging the bat well the last month," Scioscia said. "We're trying to pull a little pressure off Ersty from hitting behind [Vladimir Guerrero]. He is very demanding on himself and we're going to need him whether he's hitting fifth or sixth."
Sense of urgency: The Angels pride themselves on their ability to put losses and otherwise bad games behind them and focus on the next game. But being forced to win three of the next four games with at least two of those at Yankee Stadium turns up the heat a notch or two.
"We don't want to go down 0-2, but we're going to go out and play our game," reliever Scot Shields said. "We're not going to change how we play."
Beyond the numbers: Mariano Rivera has been one of baseball's dominant closers during his career, but in Tuesday's series opener, the numbers, at least, projected that he was merely average.
The Angels sent three straight hitters to the plate, Erstad, Molina and Casey Kotchman, who were a combined 10-for-20 against Rivera. The advantage was merely in the stats, though, as Rivera allowed a run on Erstad's RBI single but earned his 33rd postseason save.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.