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MLBeat: Gil starts at second
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Division Series
10/05/2002 2:32 pm ET 
MLBeat: Gil starts at second
Scioscia benches Kennedy against lefty Wells
By Doug Miller /

Adam Kennedy homers here in Game 3 but that didn't stop Angels manager Mike Scioscia from benching him for Game 4. (AP/Ric Francis)
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Angels have shown in this year's American League Division Series that they're not afraid of any opponent.

Their manager, Mike Scioscia, has shown that he's not afraid of any second-guessers.

With the Angels one win away from beating the Yankees and moving on to the ALCS, Scioscia chose second baseman Benji Gil, a right-handed hitter, to replace hot-hitting Adam Kennedy for Saturday's Game 4 against New York southpaw David Wells.

Kennedy went 3-for-3 with a home run, three runs scored and two RBIs in Friday night's improbable comeback victory. He also made an acrobatic stop and throwout of Derek Jeter on a ground ball.

After leading the Angels in batting this year with a .312 average, Kennedy's hitting .571 in the series with four runs scored and three RBIs.

Back to Gil went 1-for-2 with an RBI in his one start in this series -- Wednesday night's 8-6 Game 2 win in New York -- but he gave back a run with a throwing error that led to New York taking the lead.

Still, Scioscia has started Gil against left-handers for most of the year and wouldn't back off from his plan Saturday.

"With the way we've attacked lefties all year and the way Benji's swinging the bat, he's a guy we want to match up," Scioscia said. "We're fortunate enough to have a lot of options. ... Our guys understand that a lot of our achievement is about sacrifice."

Gil hit .310 against lefties this season in 87 at-bats, with all three of his homers and 13 RBIs. Kennedy hit .275 vs. southpaws in 69 at-bats. He hit three of his seven regular-season homers off lefties.

Kennedy said he wasn't surprised to see Gil starting because that's been the case for most of the year, but that he wasn't happy, either.

"I don't have a choice other than to agree with it," Kennedy said. "You come in expecting to play, but you're also aware that it might not happen. Hopefully, I won't have to play. Hopefully, we'll have a big lead and Benji will stay in for the full nine."

Kennedy said it's easier to digest Scioscia's decision because the team is winning and because he gets along well with Gil.

"Neither of us have a bigger fan on the team than each other," Kennedy said. "For me, the biggest help in all this is that I want him to do well, so I can root for him. I know he feels the same way about me."

One thing both players know is that they'll have to do better against Wells. Kennedy is 0-for-6 lifetime against the Yankees' lefty. Gil is 1-for-17.

"See?" Kennedy joked. "He's got a better average than me."

Getting ready?: Plastic and champagne, the two symbols of prospective partying in lieu of clinching championships, arrived at Edison Field on Saturday but will be kept away from the Angels' clubhouse until the hope for a series win becomes reality.

So far this year, the Angels are 0-3 with the presence of protective plastic in their locker room. They flamed out with two losses in Seattle and a defeat in Texas.

Scioscia had the plastic removed from Texas before their fourth opportunity to clinch, and they lost again. The Angels finally won their last game in Texas to nail down their first playoff berth since 1986.

On Saturday, Scioscia said the team will focus on playing their game and having fun, something they had trouble doing two weeks ago with that one win hanging over their heads.

"The experience of the last week of the season is something they can draw off of," Scioscia said. "We're going to use the same positive frame of mind of achievement that we took in Texas that day instead of just trying to concentrate on staying away from mistakes."

Torre applauds Angels fans: Yankee manager Joe Torre, who was a broadcaster for the Angels in the 1980s, said before Saturday's game that he never experienced anything like the Edison Field crowd on hand Friday night.

"Last night, the noise was deafening," Torre said. "I don't remember it as loud as it was last night. I mean, they were into the game. I know the rap that the Southern California fans get in the seventh inning, they're off on the freeway somewhere. But you didn't see that last night."

Reeling Ramon: Scioscia explained starter Ramon Ortiz's brutal Game 3 outing -- six runs on six hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings -- as a case of trying to do too much, not nerves.

"I don't think he got flustered out there," Scioscia said. "He was a little too pumped up. His velocity was great, but he was trying to generate more velocity than was needed. I think he was trying to overthrow a little bit. He was trying to throw the ball 98 mph instead of 93 or 95."

Doug Miller is a reporter for and can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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