By now we know this has been a classic ALCS. Two extra inning games, one that would never end in the Bronx last Saturday evening and the one Monday out in Anaheim At press time Yankees have the edge 2-1 and the series possibly headed back to the Bronx Saturday evening for a game six.
Analyze what has occurred with two evenly matched teams. Obvious that there has been no edge for either side, exception of course goes to Alex Rodriguez who should no longer hear that he is not a catalyst for his team. And enough said about Derek Jeter who has the eyes and ears of eight other teammates on the field. And if CC Sabathia pitched the Yankees one step closer this week, and if the Angels force a game 7 in the Bronx Sunday evening, this will definitely look like a classic American League pennant series
The conditions were the same for both sides when this all started last Friday evening at the new Yankee Stadium. Cold and wind causing some havoc, though Sabathia with his eight solid innings put the Los Angeles Angels bats on ice and the Angels made a season high three errors. The Yankees capitalized, as they always do, in taking game one 4-1.
Then there was that classic Yankees 13-inning win that went into the early hours of Sunday morning on a cold and damp field in the Bronx. Extra inning drama and the efficient Angels defense once again giving the Yankees what they needed with more postseason miscues that can be attributed to the intensity of what is on the line.
A trip to the World Series is what they are playing for. “They have a very good team and feel they are the best out there and we feel the same about ourselves,” commented the Yankees Johnny Damon after the Angels walk off 10-inning win Monday. That epitomizes what the players feel, and overall what baseball fans have been seeing.
The managers, Joe Girardi of the Yankees and Mike Scioscia also seem to be caught with emotion the past dew days. “We know this is going to be an extremely tough series,” said Giriardi after game one. He said it again after Games 2 and 3. And he wasn’t surprised about the base running mistakes. “They don’t make them often,” he said about the Angels.
“We haven’t seen our guys crack the door open for a team like we did tonight in a long time,” said Scioscia about that first inning Friday night that led to the Yankees early lead because of errors his team hardly made during the season.
“The Yankees are going to take advantage of that, and they did,” added Scioscia showing the emotion on his face from a grueling first game, knowing full well that this series could resemble a good 12-round heavyweight fight with the last man standing.
And the series and Yankees hopes of returning to another World Series may rest on the shoulders of Sabathia, one of the big three acquisitions, along with AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira, that that were brought here to get the Yankees back to the big dance. This series was supposed to be about the Angels speed and ability to take the extra base, if they can get there.
The Yankees with their power, A-Rod providing it and Teixeira not, instead sparkling at first and saving some runs for a bullpen that has been utilized, with the exception of Chad Gaudin who seems to be the odd man out. And you can fault Girardi for lifting David Robertson Monday with two men out and bringing in Alfredo Aceves that got the Angels back in the series.
But this is playoff baseball and these are the two best teams giving us all a thrill in October. Baseball at this time of year is supposed to be played this way, Managers going with the percentages, the way Girardi does and Scioscia with the playoff managerial experience.
After their loss Friday night the Angels Torii Hunter said “Wake up in the morning and feel like we had amnesia.” For the fans, who have stayed with every pitch there has been no need for forgetting what a thrill it has been to see what their Yankees and Angels have done for them.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]