ANAHEIM -- Reliever Kevin Jepsen (0-0), whom manager Mike Scioscia described as "our most important bullpen piece last year," has allowed just two runs in his 12 appearances this season. His 1.86 ERA is the team's best and he's pitching with control: He's walked just three batters and struck out 11.
What has impressed Scioscia about Jepsen's start this season is his success lefties. Last season, left-handers had no trouble hitting the right-hander, batting .325 off him. This season, facing a cutter Jepsen developed in a stint at Triple-A last May, left-handers are hitting .167.
"What really helped him was the Olympics experience and getting to the Major Leagues and understanding that if, hey, I make my pitches, my talent will play in the big leagues," Scioscia said.
Wood coming out of season-opening funk
ANAHEIM -- Brandon Wood has raised his batting average nearly 100 points over the last four games, from .102 to start play on Sunday against the Yankees to .197 entering Wednesday against the Indians.
"He's bringing confidence into the batter's box. I don't think there's anything mechanically that's different," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He burned a lot of at-bats just trying to get to this point -- you can see that now he's productive."
Wood seemed to really get rolling Monday, when he had his first extra-base hit of the season, a double in a 1-for-4 performance. He went 3-for-4 the last two nights against Cleveland, hitting his first home run of the season leading off the bottom of the ninth of Tuesday's 9-2 loss.
Wood was looking for a first-pitch fastball from submarine reliever Joe Smith, who left a sinker over the middle of the plate.
"I knew I hit it pretty well, I hit it high. When it's cold at night sometimes the ball doesn't carry as well, but I thought it had a chance," Wood said. "It's three games, but it's three games to build some confidence and get going."
Wood has also struggled at third base, committing a team-high four errors, but Scioscia said he remains confident because of Wood's prowess as a defender in the Minor Leagues.
"A couple of throws, he got a little flatfooted," Scioscia said. "Your throw has to be in rhythm. If you get on a bicycle, if you can keep your rhythm and get to a speed, everything's smooth, you have control. Someone says get on the bicycle, wait for a second try and then try to catch up, you spin out."
Budde now fourth catcher to start for Angels
ANAHEIM -- Ryan Budde, who made his season debut behind the plate in the ninth inning Tuesday night, started Wednesday against the Indians, spelling the battered Angels catching corps.
Budde had brief stints with the big league team each of the last three seasons, but hadn't had a start since 2007. He was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday, when Bobby Wilson was sent to the 15-day disabled list because of a concussion and left ankle strain, suffered in a collision at home plate with the Yankees' Mark Teixeira.
Wilson is feeling better, but there is no timetable for his return to physical or baseball activities, manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday: "He's feeling much better and that's a good sign."
Jeff Mathis went on the 15-day disabled list on April 20 with a fractured right wrist and still occasionally feels pain, but the swelling has gone down. He said Wednesday he will be re-evaluated in 20 days.
Mike Napoli, batting .154, rested Wednesday. He has four hits in eight games since Mathis went to the DL.
"Physically he's holding up fine," Scioscia said. "He's hit some balls hard, his at-bats are much better than what his stats have shown. He hasn't driven the ball as much as he can but he's had some hard outs."
Hard to hit? Only the shadows know
ANAHEIM --The Angels end their homestead with an out-of-the-ordinary start time Wednesday against the Indians: 4:05 p.m.
Manager Mike Scioscia acknowledged that shadows could make things difficult as day turns to night, but said it was nothing the players couldn't deal with, and nothing they hadn't dealt with before. Playoff games often start close to twilight.
If the game time wreaked havoc on the start of the game, it could be reconsidered for the future. Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl and president John Carpino consulted Scioscia when making the schedule.
"They've all thought this thing through and bounced a lot of ideas off of us," Scioscia said. "I'm sure that if anything happens that is really strange they'll adjust from it, but it's a baseball game. We'll be fine."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.