Angels win thriller, stave off elimination

Thanks to their 7-6 victory over the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALCS on Thursday night, the Angels saved themselves from elimination to force a Game 6.

L.A. starter John Lackey gave up three runs on six hits over 6.2 innings of work, while striking out seven and walking three. He was cruising until the sixth inning when he allowed a double to Melky Cabrera, then walked pinch hitter Jorge Posada on a terrible call by home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth.

The call definitely rattled Lackey, who wound up walking the bases loaded before retiring the second out of the inning. He was relieved with the two outs and the bases loaded, but the Halos bullpen wound up getting shelled as the Yankees put six runs on the board to take a 6-4 lead.

But the Angels answered back with three runs of their own and then held on over the final two innings to secure the victory.

The call by Culbreth completely swung the momentum in the Yankees favor. Lackey had every right to be pissed, although he allowed his emotions to get the best of him and Mike Scioscia had little choice but to relieve him. Had New York wound up winning, the Angels could have pointed to that call as their death nail.

Joe Girardi will once again be subject to criticism following his decision to let starter A.J. Burnett go back out for the seventh inning. The Yankees had all the momentum and Girardi should have had more faith in his bullpen, but he allowed Burnett to start the inning and A.J. would up allowing the first two batters to reach base to spark the Halos.

Another Yankee that will face some heat is Nick Swisher, who went 0-for-5 and popped out with bases loaded in the top of the ninth to end the game. He had a solid regular season, but he’s hitting just .118 so far in the postseason and has killed several scoring opportunities for the Bronx Bombers.

Game 6 is set for Saturday at 8:07 p.m. ET and will feature Joe Saunders vs. Andy Pettitte.

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Yankees capitalize on Angels’ bonehead play, win Game 2

Game 2

“It’s very difficult, when you’re looking up at all those raindrops and trying to find the biggest one. And Jeter did.”

– Tim McCarver commenting on Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter catching a pop fly in the rain.

I needed to laugh. After watching nearly 13 innings of enthralling play, I was absolutely infuriated with the outcome of this game. I’m not even rooting for either team — I was just screaming at the television because the ending was bad baseball. Luckily, Tim McCarver delivered countless lines of nonsense to keep things light. The gem I’ve included above was easily his best.

It’s a damn shame this game ended because of an error. Both teams played their hearts out and gave fans five hours or grueling, yet exciting competition. The players, coaches, and fans deserved a walk-off hit or a final strikeout. With one out, Jerry Hairston Jr. on second, and Robinson Cano on first in the bottom of the 13th, Melky Cabrera hit a routine ground ball to Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis. All he had to was make the easy out at first. Then, with two outs and runners on second and third, Ervin Santana would have faced Jorge Posada. Instead, Izturis attempted a double play and completely missed the glove of shortstop Erick Aybar. Granted, there was a slim chance that they would have turned two, as Cabrera isn’t the fastest guy in pinstripes. Still, why risk it? Get the easy out and try your luck against the next batter.

While this game was filled with clutch pitching and hitting, the Angels and Yankees were both sloppy on defense. Robinson Cano, Chone Figgins, Derek Jeter, and Macier Izturis all committed errors (Cano had two). I know the rain didn’t help, but some of these mishaps were inexcusable. You know the overall defense was brutal when Johnny Damon made the best grab of the night.

Joe Saunders and A.J. Burnett both provided solid starts for their clubs. Saunders went seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits, while Burnett powered through six with two earned runs on three hits. As the game progressed, the Yankees almost went through every pitcher on their roster, excluding the starters. Surprisingly, the Angels looked to Ervin Santana in the game’s late innings. Santana, a starter who spent most of the year battling injuries, managed to control the Yankees during his time on the mound. Although he’s credited with the loss, he won’t take the blame. Maicer Izturis and Brian Fuentes should have a rough flight back. With the Angels up by one run, Fuentes gave up an 11th inning home run to Alex Rodriguez. Mike Scioscia had decided to reserve Fuentes until the Angels took the lead, and it cost him. Fuentes, who led the American League in saves, looked very nervous out there, and A-Rod read him like a book.

With the Yankees up two games to none, the series now heads to Anaheim. Jered Weaver is set to pitch for the Angels against veteran Andy Pettitte of the Yankees in Game 3.

Yankees sweep Twins, set up ALCS matchup with Angels

Brady

Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada each homered on Sunday as the Yankees defeated the Twins 4-1 to complete a three-game sweep in the ALDS. New York will now face the Angels in the ALCS.

“People can say whatever they want about home runs and big hits,” Rodriguez said. “If you don’t pitch and you don’t defend, you are not going to win. The story of this has been CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and all three of them were fantastic.”

“I think we played the same way we have been playing the whole regular season,” Posada said. “I think pitching is just so important when it comes to a series like this. Once you see it, you understand why pitching is so important now.”
Pavano frustrated the Yankees for four years of an injury-marred signing, and for six innings, he did it in a different way.

Setting a new Twins postseason record with a nine-strikeout performance, Pavano saw his cruise turn sour in the seventh as A-Rod continued his monster ALDS.

The reborn slugger crushed a game-tying line-drive home run that struck the top row of the football bleachers in right field. It was the second homer of the series from Rodriguez, who belted a game-tying shot late in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium and finished the series with a .455 batting average and six RBIs.

The Yankees have a long way to go before they’re hoisting a World Series trophy, but they have to be encouraged from what they saw vs. the Twins. A-Rod is actually hitting in the playoffs and their biggest concern over the past couple of years (their pitching) is coming through as well.

That said, it’s imperative that CC Sabathia pitches well to help set the tone for the ALCS. The Angels have one of the top offenses in baseball and will certainly test the Yankees’ resolve. This should be a great series.

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