Rodriguez hasn't been content with his control at various stages of the season, but October means locking into a no-margin-for-error mind-set."This time of year," he said, "it's no time to make mistakes. You have to be ready. As pitchers, you take one pitch at a time, step by step, instead of trying to be too aggressive. That's when mistakes come out." K-Rod is thankful for one thing -- he doesn't have to face his buddies, the Angels. "That's the advantage we have, with our lineup," he said of the club's slash-and-dash attack. "They're going to have that pressure on them from the first inning to the ninth inning." Willits saga continues: The Oklahoma kid, Reggie Willits, played and accomplished much more in his rookie season than he ever imagined: 136 games, 430 at-bats, league-high 4.4 pitches per at-bat, 27 steals, 20 doubles. His .293 batting average and .391 on-base percentage were franchise records for rookies. All of that, along with dependable defense, led to Willits getting the starting in center field for injured Gary Matthews Jr. in Game 1. Willits played one highly challenging game in center behind Lackey at Fenway, battling winds in pursuit of long drives in August. "It's not an easy outfield to play," Scioscia said. "There are angles in left field, and you have that triangle in right-center. There's a lot of area to cover, and you really have to pay attention to the flags. The ball will carry or get knocked down. Just watch those flags on top of the stadium; they don't lie. Reggie will have to be in tune with that. "I think it's beneficial any time you get a little experience on the field. It has to give you a better look next time. Hopefully, Reggie will be comfortable out there." Fellow rookie Nathan Haynes, Chone Figgins and the veteran Garret Anderson are other options in center with Matthews sidelined. Izturis in No. 5 spot: A backup infielder when the season began, Maicer Izturis, like Willits, has been invaluable in close to full-time duty moving between second and third for Howard Kendrick and Figgins. Izturis finished with a .289 average in 102 games, committing just four errors. His ability to make contact and respond in clutch situations had the 5-foot-8 Venezuelan batting fifth against Josh Beckett, between Anderson and Casey Kotchman. "He's not a stereotypical No. 5 hitter, but, with Beckett, Izzy gives us a different look," said Scioscia, who has marveled at Izturis' ability to advance and plate baserunners. "Plus, [as a switch-hitter] he breaks up the lefties." Izturis led the club with a .406 average in 96 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and that was no fluke. His career average in those situations is .340 in 241 opportunities. Anderson ready: An infection has caused some swelling and closing of his right eye, but Anderson said he was ready to go. "If I can see," the sweet-swinging cleanup man said, "I can play. I'm not crazy about it, but I'm all right to play." Anderson would like to approach his performance in his 2002 introduction to ALDS play. A driving force in the Angels' conquest of the Yankees, Anderson batted .389 with a homer and four RBIs in the four games, slugging .667. In 29 career postseason games, Anderson is a .279 hitter with five homers and 22 RBIs, slugging .437. Up next: Idle on Thursday, the Angels will match Kelvim Escobar (18-7, 3.40) against Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12, 4.40) in a duel of stylish right-handers with multiple pitches in Game 2 on Friday night at 5:37 p.m. PT.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.