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BLUE JAYS PUNISH ORTEGA


BLUE JAYS PUNISH ORTEGA
ANAHEIM

It has been a calculated gamble for the Angels . While waiting for the stars of their pitching rotation to return, they've presented the ball to the kids, crossed their fingers and hoped.

Some nights it has worked beautifully, as in the case of Shane Loux's seven-inning, five-hit, 99-pitch performance Tuesday night in Oakland.

Then there are nights like Wednesday, when the American League East-leading Toronto Blue Jays came to town and Anthony Ortega couldn't keep up.

Ortega, a 23-year-old Venezuelan, didn't get out of the second inning in his third big league start, giving up six runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings of Toronto's eventual 13-1 victory.

The rookie was up against it anyway, facing Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, who breezed through eight innings to run his record to 6-1.

But Ortega didn't help himself with a lack of command.

"My strength was there, my power was there, but I had no idea where the pitches were going to land," he said through interpreter Jose Mota.

Most of his problem, he said, was not keeping the ball down. But Aaron Hill's two-run homer in the first, the first of three Toronto homers in the game, came on a pitch that was down in the zone.

"The ball Hill hit wasn't a bad pitch," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "A couple of guys stayed up the middle and got hits. But some balls did get up. And when he had a chance to put guys away, he didn't finish them.

"He's got a good arm. He just needs to make better pitches and put guys away."

Scioscia said he was certain Ortega would get another start. But by the looks of it, John Lackey and Ervin Santana cannot get back soon enough.

Both veterans make their next rehab starts at Salt Lake this weekend, and Scioscia estimated before Wednesday night's game that their return "could be anywhere from eight, nine, 10 days from now to three weeks. We don't know."

Their return would solidify the pitching staff and potentially allow the Angels to add another bench player, possibly a third catcher. That would let Scioscia use Mike Napoli as designated hitter and Jeff Mathis behind the plate more frequently. Right now Anaheim is carrying 12 pitchers.

Loux (2-2, 4.30 ERA) and Matt Palmer (2-0, 3.65) have been solid in their fill-in roles. Loux has three quality starts in five outings. Palmer, who pitches Friday against Kansas City, has made it through six innings in both of his starts and held the Yankees to a run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings Saturday in New York.

Ortega, who was the Angels' minor league pitcher of the year in 2008, now has a 13.49 ERA in three starts since his April 25 call-up.

Toronto piled on with a five-run eighth against Justin Speier, capped by Lyle Overbay's three-run homer. And when Speier followed by hitting Rod Barajas with a pitch and drew a warning from plate umpire Bill Hohn, Scioscia challenged the umpire and got himself ejected for the third time this year.

Speier then barked at Hohn when he left the mound following the top of the ninth inning and had to be restrained by pitching coach Mike Butcher.

Reach Jim Alexander at 951-368-9543 or

jalexander@PE.com and follow him at twitter.com/Jim_Alexander


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 8, 2009

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