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Angels, Giants vie for Arizona crown08/30/2008 10:00 AM ET
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
When he was in high school, Tyler Chatwood heard about it all the time, that he was too small to succeed, that he didn't fit the mold of what most see as ideal for a professional.
If his summer debut is any indication, the Southern Californian taken in the second round by the Angels is out to score one for undersized right-handers everywhere.
"I heard that a lot through the draft," Chatwood said. "That does motivate me a lot more. People say I am undersized. That motivates me to work harder and show that size doesn't matter. You just have to perform. It would be nice if I was 6-4, but I'm happy with what I've been doing."
And with good reason. The 5-foot-11 righty has posted a 3.08 ERA with 48 strikeouts and just a .195 opponents' batting average in 38 Rookie-level Arizona League innings. Now his Angels get the chance to play for a ring on Sunday.
"That's awesome," said Chatwood, who could come out of the bullpen Sunday. "I didn't know how it worked at first. Once I found out and we were on a roll the first half, it was great to think we have chance to win a ring my first year. We'll have to leave it all on the field that one game. It's pretty exciting. Whoever has a good game that day will win, just leave it on the field and have no regrets."
Chatwood also has no regrets about joining the Angels as a pitcher. In high school, he was a two-way player who would pretty much carry his glove to any position needed. Some teams liked him as a hitter with some fairly impressive tools. As the spring wore on, though, it became apparent -- as he consistently touched the mid-90s with his fastball -- that regardless of his size, he'd be making his living on the mound. Chatwood definitely gets the hitting itch but grasps that offense is no longer a part of who he is on the baseball field.
"I'll hit ground balls, but that's about it. I miss it a lot," Chatwood admitted. "But I understand that completely. I felt that it was a chance to develop my pitching and concentrate on that and not worrying about playing a position.
"My mechanics have gotten a lot better. You actually have to pitch here. You just can't throw fastballs by people here all the time. You have to pitch and locate or you're going to get hit around."
Angels (37-17) vs. Giants (35-20)
The Angels, who won the first-half title by going 21-7, return to the Championship after a one-year hiatus (they lost to the Padres in 2006). They carry the league's best batting average (.302) and OPS (.803) as well as the lowest team ERA (3.27) into the game. They had won six straight through Friday's games. The Giants were third with a 3.97 ERA and fourth in batting average, though the offense finished second to the Angels in runs scored. The Giants played in the Championship Game a year ago, losing to the Mariners. They captured the league title in 2005 by virtue of winning both halves of the season.
The Angels met the Giants seven times, going 4-3. They won the last two meetings, the most recent coming on Aug. 24.
Matthew Crawford loved Giants pitching, going 11-for-20 (.550) with four RBIs and three steals in five games. Terrell Alliman was nearly as good, hitting .478 (11-for-23) in six games. Lou Green has the most experience on the mound against the Giants, posting a 3.86 ERA over 14 innings. He walked three and struck out 15 in two starts, going 1-1. ... Craig Ziegler went 10-for-22 (.455) with a pair of homers and 10 RBIs in seven games against the Angels. Josh Mazzola hit .350 and drove in five runs in 20 at-bats. Javier Hernandez made two starts, winning one and posting a 3.48 ERA over 10 1/3 IP.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Angels: Matthew Crawford won the AZL batting title by hitting .373 while going 16-for-18 in stolen base attempts. He had a 12-game hitting streak through Aug. 27. ... Alexia Amarista finished sixth with a .335 average and tied for the league lead with 20 steals, though he was caught 13 times. ... Manuel Flores and Manuarys Correa combined to go 12-5, but Correa got bumped up to Rookie-level Orem at the end of the season. Flores' 3.16 ERA was good for seventh and he was second with 63 strikeouts (in 74 IP). Correa actually won the strikeout crown with 67 in 57 2/3 IP. Joshua Blanco was right behind Flores with a 3.27 ERA, striking out 45 over 44 IP.
Giants: No. 5 overall pick Buster Posey has only played a handful of games but already has made an impact, going 10-for-23 with five extra-base hits. Josh Mazzola and Ben Woodbury both finished in the top 10 in the batting race, hitting .331 and .328, respectively. Woodbury also went 19-for-20 in stolen base attempts. Craig Ziegler hit just .268, but he topped the AZL with 43 RBIs and was fourth with seven homers. ... Kyle Nicholson was virtually unhittable over 10 starts, going 5-1 with a 1.34 ERA in 53 2/3 IP to win the ERA title. He struck out 48 and walked only two while holding opponents to a .167 batting average. Chris Wilson finished second with six saves and had a 2.92 ERA in 18 appearances.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.