Even though Angels skipper Mike Scioscia has left a distinct impression that he doesn’t want his pitchers swinging the bat this spring in National League parks, Joe Saunders apparently couldn’t resist.
Following a triple to the left-center gap by fleet Peter Bourjos with two outs in the second inning Saturday, Saunders went the other way on an Aaron Heilman delivery and slapped it into left field for an RBI single.
Saunders, an exceptional golfer from the right side, swings the bat left-handed, as he does everything else. Joe got more exercise than he bargained for when Chone Figgins followed with his second double of the day, to the same left-center gap Bourjos hit. Third-base coach Dino Ebel wisely held Saunders at third, and he stayed there when Reggie Willits fouled out to left.
Figgins also had a hand in a textbook relay in the second inning, cutting down Milton Bradley at third. Terry Evans ran down Bradley’s drive into the right-field corner and hit cutoff man Sean Rodriguez, who threw a one-hop bullet from shallow right that Figgins snagged on one hop, applying the tag on Bradley.
Rodriguez demonstrated his exceptional range later in the inning when he went behind second to backhand a grounder by Esteban German and nail him at first with an off-balance throw.
In his second at-bat leading off the fourth inning, Saunders was clearly back with the program. He didn’t take a swing, looking at a third strike.
The line score today gives Dustin Moseley no justice. In New York, Chicago and his hometown of Texarkana, Ark., it will look as if the Angels’ right-hander had an average day: four innings, four hits, two earned runs, one walk, four strikeouts. But he was much, much better than that.
A windblown popup got up in the high sky and sun, and shortstop Erick Aybar couldn’t find it. By the time it had fallen to the turf, two runs had scored and Bobby Scales was standing at second base with a gift two-run double.
Moseley kept his composure and retired Mark Johnson to end the fourth inning — and his day. With any luck at all, he’d have departed with four scoreless innings.
Moseley had all his stuff working from the outset. He caught Milton Bradley looking to close the first inning after an infield hit, struck out two more in the second inning and Joey Gathright in the third.
Moseley now has yielded four earned runs in nine innings, but only two of the earned runs were truly earned. He has been terrific in his bid for a spot in the rotation.