By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
OCT. 5, 2002
ALDS GAME 4
YANKEES AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- For the team that plays in The City That Never Sleeps, it was lights out.
The New York Yankees, the American League champions in each of the past four seasons and five of the past six, returned to New York early Sunday morning without any such banner, with their so-called mystique in their back pockets.
The Angels, who went 41 seasons without winning a playoff series, exorcised the demons of so many empty Octobers, eliminating the Yankees with a 9-5 victory in Game 4 of the American League Division Series before a red-clad crowd of 45,067 at Edison Field. After losing Game 1 of the series, the Angels won three in a row to close out the best-of-five series.
The Angels have a flight scheduled to leave this evening, but they must wait for the outcome of Game 5 between Oakland and Minnesota to learn where they're going and who they'll be playing in the American League Championship Series starting Tuesday.
``Nobody gave us a chance against the Yankees,'' Angels right fielder Tim Salmon said. ``They are a great club. Maybe we caught them on a bad week or something, I don't know. But we went toe-to-toe with them and we answered the bell every time we had to.''
If it were a championship fight, the Yankees might have lost by TKO in the fifth inning, when the Angels sent 13 batters to the plate. Ten had hits and eight scored. It turned a 2-1 Angels deficit into a 9-2 lead.
The Angels scored 31 runs on 56 hits in the four games, beating up on Yankees starters Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and on Saturday, David Wells. Wells took a one-run lead into the fateful fifth when he yielded a solo homer to Shawn Wooten leading off the inning.
One out later, the Angels strung together five consecutive singles. After the second out, they put together another four consecutive hits. Wooten and Benji Gil each had two hits in the inning. The 10 hits in the inning tied a major-league postseason record.
``Nobody could stop them,'' Yankees second baseman Alfonso Soriano said. ``Every pitcher that came to the mound, they hit. Nobody could stop that offense.''
Angels starter Jarrod Washburn held the Yankees to two runs in five innings, but he struggled to get there, making 94 pitches. To start the sixth, he turned the ball over to the bullpen, which fought off a Yankee lineup that was fighting for its final breath.
Brendan Donnelly, Scott Schoeneweis and Frankie Rodriguez set up the ninth for Troy Percival, who retired Nick Johnson on a popup to shortstop David Eckstein, setting off a celebration that began on the pitcher's mound and carried over into a champagne-soaked clubhouse.
``We beat an incredible club,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``This was an incredible challenge and we came out ahead.
``Those last 12 outs were brutal. We got a little more excited as the game went on, but for us to play our game, we have to take the emotion out of it. Too much adrenaline takes you out of your game. For us to play our game we have to step back and execute.''
As the series developed, it became more apparent the Angels were more than fodder for the great Yankee machine. Few in New York gave the Angels a chance, but now the Yankees are left to look forward to next spring.
``People who hadn't watched us didn't know anything about us,'' Washburn said. ``Now they've seen us play and know we're not a fluke.''
Many in the Angels clubhouse admitted that beating the Yankees was sweeter than if it had been any other team.
``I don't know if people are tired of the Yankees,'' Gil said. ``They're a special team, a special organization, they always have been. But unfortunately they're going to have to wait until next year.''
Angels center fielder Darin Erstad led the team with eight hits in the series, but said the Angels must quickly shift their focus to either the A's or Twins.
``This series was fantastic; it was a mentally exhausting series because every pitch meant so much,'' he said. ``But now we take the next step and start all over again.''
ANAHEIM -- The postgame celebration after the Angels' series-clinching victory over the New York Yankees was similar to their celebration in Texas after clinching a playoff berth. The scene was wild, only this time some of the participants might have caused one do a double-take.
Disney CEO Michael Eisner, clad in a red Angels shirt and an Angels cap worn backwards, was a target of first baseman Scott Spiezio, who sprayed him in the face with champagne.
``He was way too dry,'' Spiezio said.
And there was Jackie Autry, wife of original Angels owner Gene Autry, pouring champagne over the head of team vice president Tim Mead.
``It was great to see guys like that, Eisner, Jackie Autry, those people built this team,'' Spiezio said.
In a corner of the clubhouse stood Gary DiSarcina, who played with the Angels from 1989-2001 and who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game. DiSarcina, in dress slacks and shirt, was dripping wet after a drenching from Tim Salmon.
``I'm just happy for them,'' said DiSarcina, who retired earlier this year while playing in the minor leagues in the Red Sox organization. ``There have been a lot of lean years here, and these guys deserve it. I've kept touch with a lot of these guys, but I didn't call anybody in September. I didn't want to jinx anything.''
DiSarinca was asked if he felt like former Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly, who played 13 seasons with the team before it reached the playoffs in 1995. He retired after that season and the Yankees won the World Series in '96.
``Timing's everything,'' DiSarcina said, who was then approached by Autry, who said: ``You should have been here.''
The Angels are likely to go with Kevin Appier in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday, either in Oakland or Minnesota. Appier would have pitched in Game 5 vs. the Yankees if the series had gone that far.
``I know whoever we face is going to be tough,'' Appier said.
Game 2 probably will be Jarrod Washburn, who would pitch on three-days' rest on Wednesday. Upon returning home for Game 3, the Angels will have to decide between Ramon Ortiz, who struggled in Game 3 of the Division Series, or John Lackey, who relieved Ortiz in in that game and pitched three scoreless innings.
Ortiz finished the season going 6-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his final nine starts, but his first postseason start was a bust Friday night, when he gave up six runs in just 2 2/3 innings.
Ortiz had eight days between starts, which might have led to him feeling too strong and consequently, overthrowing. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he did not think Ortiz was overwhelmed by the playoff atmosphere.
``I don't think he got flustered,'' Scioscia said. ``He was a little too pumped up. His velocity was great but he was trying to generate more velocity than was needed. He was trying to throw 98 mph instead of 93-95 mph.''
The Angels' eight-run fifth inning tied or set several records. It set an American League Division Series record for most batters and most at-bats in an inning (13), most singles in one inning (eight) and most runs in an inning. The 10 hits in the inning tied the all-time postseason record, accomplished only once before. The Philadelphia Athletics had 10 hits in Game 4 of the 1929 World Series.[EP
Frankie Rodriguez, who earned the win in relief in both Games 2 and 3, became the second player in major league history to win two postseason games before the age of 20. The Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela is the other.
Rodriguez also became the first player in major league history to get his first two major league wins of his career in the postseason. The only other player to get his first career major league win in the postseason was Odalis Perez, who won a game for Atlanta in 1998.