Scioscia enjoying luxury of two lefty relievers

Scioscia enjoying luxury of two lefty relievers

ARLINGTON -- Lefty reliever Cesar Ramos has been shocked by the opposing lineup cards he's seen in his first year with the Angels.

"I felt like in the [American League] East there were a lot of big lefties," Ramos, formerly of the Rays, said, "but now I feel like they're all in the West."

Seven days ago the Angels' four AL West rivals -- the Astros, Mariners, A's and Rangers -- trotted out a combined 17 left-handed hitters in their Opening Day lineups. On Monday night, during the Angels' 6-3 win at Globe Life Park, the Rangers carried six.

"I haven't seen so many lefties every single day in a lineup since I've been here," Ramos said.

It's been a long time since manager Mike Scioscia has had two reliable lefty relievers, let alone one -- and that's why the early success of Ramos and Jose Alvarez has been so encouraging.

Neither is a traditional lefty specialist by any means. Ramos, 30, has been used mostly as a long reliever for most of his seven-year career. Alvarez, 25, was a starter until the middle of Spring Training, when the Angels shortened his length in hopes of using him in the bullpen.

But the two have combined to limit lefties to one hit in seven at-bats, with no walks and four strikeouts through the season's first seven games.

On Monday, with one on and one out and the Angels nursing a two-run lead in the seventh inning, Scioscia replaced Matt Shoemaker with Ramos because three straight lefties -- Rougned Odor, Leonys Martin and Shin-Soo Choo -- were due up.

Ramos retired his first two hitters, but Scioscia had plenty of options in case the inning extended. Warming up in the meantime was righty specialist Vinnie Pestano, who would face the right-handed-hitting Adrian Beltre. Right next to him was Alvarez, who would come in against lefties Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland thereafter.

"If you have versatility and you have balance, it does create depth," Scioscia said. "We can use guys in different situations, different roles, and hopefully keep them fresh and get the results we need."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.