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Help wanted: middle relief

7/20/2011

One area the Angels could improve before the trade deadline without costing them much in terms either of dollars or prospects is their middle relief.

It has been a mess all season, with a revolving carousel of pitchers who have failed to lock down the sixth through eighth innings, including Kevin Jepsen, Jason Bulger, Michael Kohn, Michael Thompson and Hisanori Takahashi.

Next up is seven-year veteran Horacio Ramirez, a left-hander who was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake before Wednesday's game. Kohn, who surrendered three home runs Tuesday night, went back down.

There reportedly are dozens of middle relievers available before the deadline, though thus far there has been little movement. Middle relief has historically been one of the Angels' strong suits, with skilled non-closers like Scot Shields, Brendan Donnelly and Francisco Rodriguez getting the ball to the ninth inning for a time.

"Some of that's been frustrating," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think we've lost some games with the inability to keep ourselves close, to give ourselves a shot at comebacks. We haven't made some teams work as hard as they needed to to win games."

Here are the lineups for Wednesday's game vs. the first-place Texas Rangers, who -- by the way -- also are in the market for setup help:

Texas

1. Ian Kinsler 2B

2. Elvis Andrus SS

3. Josh Hamilton LF

4. Adrian Beltre 3B

5. Michael Young DH

6. David Murphy RF

7. Yorvit Torrealba C

8. Mitch Moreland 1B

9. Endy Chavez CF

Rangers

1. Erick Aybar SS

2. Torii Hunter RF

3. Bobby Abreu DH

4. Vernon Wells LF

5. Alberto Callaspo 3B

6. Howie Kendrick 2B

7. Mark Trumbo 1B

8. Bobby Wilson C

9. Mike Trout CF