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The peril of two rookies in the rotation

The Angels had begun the pitchers meeting that precedes every series when somebody realized there was one guy missing.

It was that night's starting pitcher, Garrett Richards, who was sitting by himself in the Angels clubhouse. Out came bullpen catcher Tom Gregorio to summon him to the conference room. Richards hasn't exactly been at this long.

He's 23 years old, was in Double-A a week ago, and now is being asked to stop one of the best offenses in the American League -- and the team the Angels are chasing -- in its tracks. Compounding the challenge for the Angels is that the guy who pitches the second game vs. the Texas Rangers, Tyler Chatwood, is actually two years younger than Richards and also a rookie.

Necessity has been the mother of promotion for the Angels as they try to keep up in this pennant race.

"Our depth on the starting pitching side has been stretched," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Before Richards made his debut at Yankee Stadium last week, Chatwood said he talked to him about using his breathing to "slow it down." It tells you where things stand with this organization -- after Scott Kazmir pitched himself out of the game and Joel Pineiro pitched himself into the bullpen -- that 21-year olds are dispensing advice.

"(They're) definitely our two best options, not only as far as being young, talented arms, but to win games and that's what we're looking at," Scioscia said.

UPDATE: Make that one rookie. Richards left the start with a strained right groin just 19 pitches into his evening. Now, the Angels must scramble for a replacement. It likely will be either Pineiro or Hisanori Takahashi.

Here are lineups for Game 1 of the Texas series:

Texas

1. Ian Kinsler 2B

2. Elvis Andrus SS

3. Josh Hamilton CF

4. Michael Young 3B

5. Nelson Cruz RF

6. Mike Napoli C

7. David Murphy LF

8. Yorvit Torrealba DH

9. Mitch Moreland 1B

Angels

1. Maicer Izturis 2B

2. Alberto Callaspo 3B

3. Bobby Abreu DH

4. Torii Hunter RF

5. Mark Trumbo 1B

6. Vernon Wells LF

7. Erick Aybar SS

8. Peter Bourjos CF

9. Bobby Wilson C