Lots of reasons to believe Angels will still make some playoff noise
NEW YORK -- As clubhouse post mortems go, the Angels' atmosphere after Game 2 here wasn't nearly as deadly as many. Even after they blew a second straight game in the ALCS that left them in the very unenviable position of being two games down to this vaunted Yankees team, the Angels don't seem defeated.
They're going to need to beat the best $200 million Yankees at least two out of three just to get back to New York for Game 6, and that's not going to be easy. But remember: this team has overcome more than any other just to get to this point.
"You better believe we'll be back here,'' a confident Angels manager
The Angels threw out an uncharacteristic clunker in Game 1, and followed that by blowing chance after chance in Game 2, by blowing a save and also by ultimately throwing the game away. Yet, they made no excuses and talked a good game -- two positive signs -- as they left for the six-hour cross-country flight.
"There's a lot of baseball left,'' Torii Hunter said.
The Yankees can be an intimidating lot, especially when Alex Rodriguez is locked in like this (his game-tying home run in the 4-3, 13-inning Yankees victory off Angels closer Brian Fuentes made it three times he's foiled a closer with a game-tying blast in five playoff games). But let's not forget the Angels ran away in the AL West, which is tougher than you might think, after starting the season with more than half their rotation on the disabled list. What's more, they stayed together after the cruelest blow of all, the tragic death in April of their talented young pitcher
This isn't a team that won 100 games (including their three-game sweep over the Red Sox) by accident.
Sure, this is also a team that left 16 men on base in Game 2, a team whose closer
But this is a team that thinks positively, and a team with the best possible manager for a time like this. Scioscia, whose Angels beat the Yankees in both 2002 and 2005, isn't a fellow who gets flustered. One Angels insider said he hasn't blown up at the miscues here (and there have been a few, including shortstop
"We played a good game tonight, we played really well,'' Scioscia actually said while alone in his office after the game. "We had opportunities. We ran the bases well. We just couldn't close out the game. We got the game where we wanted it. We just couldn't close it out. We did a lot of good things leading up to that last mistake.''
Here are some more reasons they may come back:
• They'll be more comfortable back in sunny Southern California. They won't complain about the weather, but this was no Disneyland here. Plus, I suspect that missed popup in Game 1 might have been caused by Aybar's cap with extended ear flaps (a few cold-averse players wore them, including
• That Yankees bullpen may be a tad depleted. Maybe, anyway. The rumor is
• Perhaps they'll learn not to pitch to A-Rod. They succeeded in the 2005 playoffs by busting him inside. But now there appears to be no good strategy. It certainly wasn't Fuentes throwing a meatball of an 0-and-2 pitch to him with the Angels up 3-2 and
• The Angels are due to play cleaner defense. Their 85 errors in the regular season were fourth fewest in the AL. But now they have six this postseason, more than anyone. Izturis never should have tried that throw to second with one out in the 13th when an out at first would have sufficed. "I'm aggressive. But sadly, it cost is the game,'' Izturis told
• The Angels can still make things happen like almost no one else. Despite possessing much less power than the Yankees, they scored the second most runs in the American League. But so far in this series, they have failed to force the action and failed to hit in the clutch. That isn't them.
A couple of the Yankees' more finicky star pitchers have had issues with Posada before, most notably
Word is that Molina is much quicker than Posada at calling for pitches when there's a baserunner at second base, enabling the pitcher to stay in rhythm, and also much more likely to accept a pitcher's wishes. Posada is seen as slightly stubborn about his opinion of what pitch should be called. Molina is also viewed as one of the best in the league framing pitches, and thus stealing strikes. One pitcher said Molina may steal up to three or four strikes an inning when he's at his best.
The reason Girardi employs
In each of two different playoff games already, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has used eight different pitchers. Perhaps he'd use even more if he wasn't running out of them.
Girardi's playoff style is part
But Girardi has taken the urgency to a whole new level.
In the five games, Giarardi has made 19 pitching changes to cover 17 2/3 innings. That's a lot of calls, but a vast majority of Girardi's relief calls have worked.
New Padres owner
However, Ng is still viewed by outside observers as a long shot to get the job. MLB strongly urges teams to consider worthy minority candidates, and with Moorad becoming a new owner, he surely will comply with
Ng previously has been interviewed for GM jobs with the Dodgers and Mariners, and baseball insiders don't believe this will be the time for her to break through. Red Sox assistant GM
Beyond the Ng revelation it's been a fairly secretive process. It is believed that highly-regarded assistant GMs
The Padres played very well in the second half next year, but with the payroll expected to remain in the $40 million range, whoever does get the job has a major challenge on his -- or her -- hands.