The Angels won 100 games in the regular season by being aggressive. They lost the first one in the playoffs by being reckless.
Down by one run in the eighth inning Wednesday night, with
It was a terrible decision. And in a best-of-five series, one bad decision can be the difference between moving on and heading home. The Angels lost to the Red Sox on Wednesday, 4-1, due in large part to Guerrero's gaffe. Despite having the best record in the major leagues this season and the most complete team in baseball, the Angels must win Game 2 on Friday or they will go back to Fenway Park down 0-2 in the American League Division Series, a sure death sentence.
Guerrero said he thought Hunter's fly went further than it did, clearly a gross miscalculation. The Angels are a dervish of a team, loaded with free swingers and breakneck baserunners. From the minor leagues on up, coaches in the organization preach the importance of taking the extra base. If a runner gets thrown out once in a while, it's OK, as long as he was hustling. But in the playoffs, where each miscue is magnified, getting thrown out at third base is not OK.
Since 2002, when the Angels won the World Series, they have racked up four AL West titles. But they have won only one playoff series in that span and they have never won Game 1 of a division series. The Red Sox swept the Angels in the first round in 2004 en route to a World Series championship and did the same in 2007. This time was supposed to be different. The Red Sox, like the Angels a year ago, hobbled into the postseason --
"We're facing the same situation they were last year,"
But there is something fundamentally different between the Red Sox and the Angels. Call it big-game moxie. Although
Two years ago,
Red Sox manager
The Angels, who scored all of four runs in being swept by the Red Sox last October, supposedly muscled up by signing Hunter in the offseason and trading for
For everything the Angels accomplished over the past six months, they now find themselves with something to prove. Sure, they can win 100 games, but they need to show that they can settle down and win a big one.