Sunday, August 28, 2011
Brave new world for Jordan Walden
By Mark Saxon
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jordan Walden grew up right here in Arlington, but he wasn't quite prepared for what greeted him when he got on the mound Saturday night. By the time he got in the game, his gray road jersey was soaked through.
Several Angels pitchers said the visiting bullpen here is the hottest place in the ballpark because it's tucked between the bleachers and left-field stands, with no room for air to circulate.
"I'm not used to getting a sign with constant water dripping off my nose, my hands," Walden said. "I even threw one to the back stop because it slipped out of my hand. It's bad. My entire shirt was soaked and I only got one out. This is my home, but I don't miss it at all, not in the summer time."
There have been a lot of new experiences for Walden this season and you wonder whether having a rookie closer could be a worrisome issue for the Angels as the pennant race heats up. For one thing, Walden just converted to relief pitching last year and he's only eight games short of his workload from last year.
Walden, 23, loaded the bases Saturday before manager Mike Scioscia relieved him with lefty Hisanori Takahashi, who induced a game-ending double play. Scioscia said Walden will be right back in a save situation if it develops Sunday.
"It’s not about pressure at all. This guy has the makeup to go out there and put it on the line," Scioscia said. "He’s had a lot of success this year and there have been some that have sliped between the cracks. It’s part of the process of developing a closer."
Here are lineups for Sunday night's game, the rubber match in this crucial division showdown: