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ALDS, Game 2: Royals vs. Angels lineups

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Here are the lineups for Game 2 of the Royals-Angels series in Anaheim:

Royals:
SS Alcides Escobar
RF Norichika Aoki
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Billy Butler
LF Alex Gordon
C Salvador Perez
2B Omar Infante
3B Mike Moustakas

SP Yordano Ventura

Ned Yost sticks with the same lineup he used in Game 1 and in the Wild Card Game. Game 1 hero Mike Moustakas continues to bat ninth and temporary Wild Card Game goat, Yordano Ventura, gets the start after being used (or misused) for a rare relief appearance.

Angels:
RF Kole Calhoun
CF Mike Trout
1B Albert Pujols
2B Howie Kendrick
SS Erick Aybar
3B David Freese
LF Josh Hamilton
DH C.J. Cron
C Chris Iannetta

SP Matt Shoemaker

Mike Scioscia is sticking with the same lineup as Game 1 despite facing a right-hander instead of a left-hander, which means Chris Iannetta over Hank Conger behind the plate and C.J. Cron at designated hitter. Josh Hamilton, who had a rough Game 1 and tweaked his back crashing into the outfield wall, is back in left field and batting seventh. Starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker will be seeing his first game action since September 15.

Josh Hamilton can’t hack it in first game in weeks

Josh Hamilton, Gary DiSarcina
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Making his first appearance since Sept. 16 — and just his second since Sept. 4 — Josh Hamilton, returning from shoulder, chest and rib cage injuries, went 0-for-5 in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Royals, four times getting retired by left-handed pitchers. He popped up to third base to end the game in the 11th.

In both the seventh and ninth innings, the Angels worked to set things up for Hamilton; the leadoff man got on and Erick Aybar bunted him over both times, even though there was a left-handed pitcher on the mound. In the seventh, Hamilton hit a routine grounder off rookie Brandon Finnegan. In the ninth, he struck out in a poor at-bat versus Tim Collins.

Manager Mike Scioscia was due to face questions afterwards whether starting Hamilton was the right call. This was actually a pretty good matchup for Hamilton, though; not only did he hit .330 in 91 at-bats against lefties during the regular season, but he had three career homers in 27 at-bats against Royals starter Jason Vargas (albeit with a .222 average). If Hamilton was going to play during the series, then there was no reason not to use him tonight.

Tonight was the lesser question, though. The bigger one is whether Hamilton should be playing at all. We’ll get a better read on that Friday when he faces flamethrowing Yordano Ventura. If Hamilton is overmatched, the Angels should strongly consider trying something different in left field in Game 3, which would probably mean playing Efren Navarro.

ALDS, Game 1: Royals vs. Angels lineups

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Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the Royals-Angels series in Anaheim:

Royals:
SS Alcides Escobar
RF Norichika Aoki
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Billy Butler
LF Alex Gordon
C Salvador Perez
2B Omar Infante
3B Mike Moustakas

SP Jason Vargas

Exact same lineup the Royals used in the Wild Card Game, even though they were facing a left-hander then and are facing a right-hander tonight. It’s the standard batting order they went with down the stretch.

Angels:
RF Kole Calhoun
CF Mike Trout
1B Albert Pujols
2B Howie Kendrick
3B David Freese
SS Erick Aybar
LF Josh Hamilton
DH C.J. Cron
C Chris Iannetta

SP Jered Weaver

Josh Hamilton missed most of September with a shoulder injury, so manager Mike Scioscia is understandably skeptical about what he’ll bring to the table against a left-hander and has him batting seventh. Chris Iannetta gets the nod at catcher over Hank Conger and C.J. Cron’s right-handed bat is in the lineup at designated hitter.

Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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With two days remaining in the regular season, the Mariners are still alive. Kendrys Morales, Michael Saunders, and Dustin Ackley all homered as Seattle hung on for 4-3 win over the Angels last night in Anaheim.

All of the offense came against Jered Weaver, who lasted six innings in his final tuneup before the postseason. Hisashi Iwakuma allowed two runs (on back-to-back solo homers from Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout) over 6 1/3 innings for his 15th victory. Fernando Rodney made things interesting in the ninth by giving up a out-out RBI double to Erick Aybar which put the tying run on second base, but he was able to get the final two outs to wiggle out of the jam and finish off the win.

The Mariners are currently two games behind the Athletics for the final Wild Card spot in the American League. The Athletics beat the Rangers 6-2 last night and have a magic number of one to clinch a postseason berth. That means the Mariners can’t lose another game and need the Rangers to take the next two from the A’s. They need a lot to go their way, but they still have a shot.

Your Friday box scores:

Angels 3, Mariners 4

Marlins 0, Nationals 4/Marlins 15, Nationals 7

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 4

Braves 4, Phillies 5

Twins 11, Tigers 4

Astros 3, Mets 1

Yankees 3, Red Sox 2

Pirates 3, Reds 1

Athletics 6, Rangers 2

Cubs 6, Brewers 4

Royals 3, White Sox 1

Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 6 (10 innings)

Rockies 4, Dodgers 7

Padres 4, Giants 1

Injuries will test A’s in stretch run

josh donaldson getty
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OAKLAND – Depth has been a major key to the A’s success this year, and it’s going to play a huge factor over the final five weeks of the regular season.

Injuries are eating away at the A’s roster at an inopportune time, to the point where Sunday’s 9-4 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels wasn’t even the worst news of the day.

Before they took the field, the A’s absorbed the news that closer Sean Doolittle was headed to the 15-day disabled list with a strained right intercostal (side) muscle. He’s expected to miss a minimum of two weeks.

[RELATED: A’s place Doolittle on disabled list; Otero recalled]

Catcher John Jaso will join the seven-day concussion D.L. on Monday, but it’s unknown how much time he will miss. Josh Donaldson’s MRI on Sunday showed no structural damage in his left knee, but although there’s no plan to put the All-Star third baseman on the D.L., it’s unclear if he’ll return to the lineup immediately.

The A’s already were without starting shortstop Jed Lowrie and middle infielder Nick Punto, and there’s no immediate timetable for their return either. And keeping with the theme of the day, outfielder Sam Fuld wore an ice pack on his left knee after the game. He hyper-extended the knee when he landed awkwardly trying to catch Erick Aybar’s first-inning double off the wall Sunday. Fuld will be re-evaluated Monday.

Injuries are something every team contends with over the course of the season, and how the A’s compensate for the current crop of health setbacks will play heavily into whether they can outlast the Angels and Seattle Mariners in the American League West.

Oakland trails the Angels by one game with 33 left to play, while the Mariners are six back.

“I think we’ll respond well,” starting pitcher Scott Kazmir said. “Those are key guys that are out right now. We’ve got a couple other guys that are banged up too, so we know that we need to step our game up a little bit more. I think we’ll do that.”

Kazmir (14-6) lamented his lack of command after he got shelled for a season high-tying seven runs and 10 hits in just three-plus innings. The A’s were behind 8-0 by the fourth, and with the way Angels right-hander Jered Weaver was throwing, there was no climbing back into this one. “I hit maybe one spot the entire game,” Kazmir said. “There were some situations where I felt like I’d be able to take control a little bit, and I’d throw two strikes, get ahead of a guy, and then just throw a ball right down the middle.

[RECAP: Angels chase Kazmir early as A’s lose 9-4]

“I felt like I just wasn’t aggressive enough. I was kind of trying to trick people out there, throwing curveballs, sliders and changeups instead of just really focusing on my fastball and establishing that.”

Sweeping the Angels would have been quite a story, but taking two of three and gaining one game in the standings for the weekend is acceptable for Oakland. The A’s travel to Houston for three games starting Monday – they dropped two of three at Minute Maid Park last month – and then they head to Anaheim for a four-game rematch with the Angels that starts Thursday.

Donaldson’s status is critical, but the A’s also have to hold down the fort at the back of the bullpen with Doolittle out. A’s manager Bob Melvin said he has a ‘Plan B’ formulated but wanted to talk with the relievers involved Monday before announcing it. Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero have closed games this season, and Ryan Cook has closing experience from seasons past.

[RELATED: Recent health issues confronting multiple A’s]

Doolittle, who injured his side on his final two pitches of Saturday night’s game, said there’s no firm return date that he and the training staff are eyeing. Intercostal strains typically take anywhere from two to several weeks to heal.

“Timetables can be frustrating,” the All-Star closer said. “As soon as you miss one, that can be really frustrating mentally. We’re gonna take it day to day. It’s probably something we have a better handle on once we start moving around and doing some stuff later on in the week.”