True, Game 2 between the Chicago White Sox and the Angels will feature two successful left-handers. But only one of them is recovering from strep throat.
People tend to group left-handers together, but this is the grossest sort of stereotyping and ought to be stopped. Mark Buehrle, the White Sox starter in Game 2, was asked this about his Angels counterpart:
"Does [Jarrod] Washburn remind you of you?"
They're both currently drawing breath in Chicago, and that's pretty much it for similarities. Fortunately, Buehrle, an easygoing type when not on the mound, did not take serious offense.
"Lefty, same number , I guess we're both goofy," Buehrle said. "He throws hard, throws a lot of high fastballs, more of a location pitcher. He likes to pitch up in the zone a little more than I do. Other than being left-handed, not really."
The really big difference between the two southpaws Tuesday was that Buehrle was the picture of good health and Washburn was merely the picture of potential recuperation. The strep throat had knocked him out of his start in the Division Series against New York. Between Friday and Tuesday, Washburn had not as much as picked up a baseball.
"I'm a little tired and a little weak," Washburn said. "But I'll be ready to go."
Washburn remained in New York for rest and recuperation while his teammates went back to Anaheim for the decisive Game 5 of the Division Series.
"I can't think of anything that would be worse torture for a baseball player to go through," Washburn said. "Those were the two hardest games I've ever watched in my life having to sit in a room by myself, having to watch it on TV and I can't help."
Buehrle has no reported health difficulties, but he'll be carrying his own burden in this one. The White Sox lost the opener, 3-2, and the record of teams that lose the first two games of a postseason series at home is not particularly encouraging.
This Angels lineup is not as immediately as imposing as, for instance, the Red Sox. And yet, the Angels are still in the postseason, but the Red Sox are not. The Angels have an offense that can find a variety of ways to score, even if it can't plan on clobbering you over the head. Buehrle gets it.
"I don't think they [the Angels] are as good offensively as Boston is," Buehrle said. "But obviously they're kind of built like we are; you've got speed at the top of the lineup, power in the middle, guys at the end of the lineup that can get on base to get back to the top of the lineup. They're one of better offenses in baseball, and I think it's proven that they go out there and score a lot of runs during the season."
The big variable in Game 2 may be how long and how effectively Washburn's health allows him to perform. Manager Mike Scioscia said it was "still not a slam dunk" that Washburn would be well enough to start. What would Scioscia do then?
"What do you think?" Scioscia said. "[Pitching coach] Buddy Black is not stretched out enough."
Scioscia eventually said that long reliever Kevin Gregg would get the call if Washburn could not make the start.
But Washburn is a genuine competitor and if it is humanly possible, he'll be on the mound for the Angels on Wednesday night.
"I'm not going to hold anything back," Washburn said. "I'm going to give them everything I've got for as long as I can."
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less