Five Cuts: Another West Coast team falters; A-Rod for MVP?
1. Let's be honest: The Angels didn't show well in New York. In three games at Yankee Stadium, Los Angeles went 0-3, committed seven errors, walked 17 batters and looked jittery. I am starting to believe that there really is something to my East Coast Baseball theory. West Coast teams went 1-6 this postseason in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. That makes West Coast teams 3-19 (.136) when they come to the Northeast for postseason baseball since 2003, and 10-38 (.208) in the wild-card era. The advantage may be that Northeast teams play in postseason-type environments all year long, where baseball means so much to the fan base that every 0-for-12 streak is a two-hour talk radio rant.
But nine walks in an elimination game? Come on. That's not good baseball for the Angels, especially given the generosity of umpire
"He's very different," Angels outfielder
It was pretty cool to watch what happened in the middle of the infield after the series-clinching out. Rodriguez, finally in the World Series at age 34, yelled so loud the gum popped from his mouth as both he and first baseman
It was also interesting to see the reaction of closer
And that leaves us with a World Series with the two men who have closed out more postseason series than any other pitchers in history. Here are the leaders for most times getting the last out of a postseason series:
1. Mariano Rivera, 13
3. That was quite a grueling outing by Angels starter
Saunders faced 22 batters and retired 10 of them. He finished with five walks and no strikeouts. Do you know how hard that is to do as a starting pitcher? To last long enough to give up five walks but get no punchouts? He became only the sixth starter ever in the postseason to walk five batters and strike out nobody -- joining
"When I got into trouble they found a hole," Saunders said. "You've got to be aggressive in the strike zone against them. It was tough for me, battling my command. When I made a good pitch, they found a hole."
4. Saunders' biggest mistake was when he walked
Just how bad was that walk? Cano had 151 plate appearances this year in which he faced a 1-and-2 count. He wound up walking only once in those 151 times at bat.
Yes, the Angels coughed up two unearned runs in the eighth without allowing a hit, but the fourth inning was what knocked them out of the playoffs, and it all was set in motion by a terrible walk. Of the five runners who scored for the Yankees in Game 6, four of them did not have to hit their way on. They were put on base by a walk or an error.
5. One more bit of evidence why baseball is so hard to figure out: The Yankees won with their seldom-used version of small ball. The Yankees won three games all year when they didn't hit a home run at Yankee Stadium. But in three ALCS games they won twice at home without the longball.
"I actually think we pitched them pretty well in this series," Angels manager
In Game 6, not only did the Yankees not get a home run, they also didn't get an extra-base hit. It was only their second time -- and the first time they won -- without an extra-base hit at the new yard. It was just the ninth time in their storied history that they won a postseason game anywhere without an extra-base hit, and only the second time in a clincher. The other time they clinched a series with nothing but singles? A 1-0 win over the Giants in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series.
The Angels? It was painful watching them have to string hits together like prayer beads just to score a run. They hit one home run all series with a man on base. In their last 90 plate appearances of the series, they hit no home runs and took just six walks. Ouch.