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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Girardi’s gaff costs Yankees in Game 3 of ALCS

The Angels avoided falling in a three-game hole by beating the Yankees 5-4 in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday night. Vladimir Guerrero hit a game-tying two-run home run in the sixth inning and Jeff Mathis hit a game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the 11th inning for the Halos.

Not to take anything away from the Angels because this was a huge win for them, but Joe Girardi screwed the pooch by taking reliever David Robertson out in the 11th after he retired the first two batters. Girardi replaced Robertson with Alfredo Aceves, who immediately gave up a single to Howie Kendrick and then the double to Mathis.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but Robertson’s location was fine and his curve was sharp, so why Girardi felt the need to take him out is perplexing. Granted, the same outcome could have happened if Girardi left Robertson in the game but it really seems like the New York skipper over managed the situation tonight.

So much for Sabathia being a postseason choke

Remember all the talk before the playoffs started about how CC Sabathia couldn’t hack it in the postseason? Well, apparently Sabathia took it to heart because so far the Yankees’ ace has been dominant.

Sabathia limited the Angels to one run on four hits over eight innings in the Yankees’ 4-1 Game 1 victory in the ALCS Friday night. Sabathia also struck out seven and walked just one as he threw 76 of his 113 pitches for strikes.

Of course, New York was helped dramatically by L.A.’s inability to make routine plays. The Halos played a brutal game, committing three errors and allowing a routine popup fall between Eric Aybar and Chone Figgins between shortstop and third base in the third inning. The play allowed two runners to score and the Yankees never looked back after that.

The only good thing that can come out of this loss for the Angels is that they played so bad that it could re-focus them for the rest of the series. It’s hard to get over a tough loss when you played well and just didn’t execute in the end. It’s a little easier to chalk up a loss and move on when you make a bunch of routine errors and overall just had an off night.

We’ll see how the Halos respond in Game 2.

Yankees sweep Twins, set up ALCS matchup with Angels


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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