ANAHEIM -- It was overshadowed by all the drama that followed: the six runs the Yankees scored in the top of the seventh, all of which came after Angels starter
After Wednesday's workout, Scioscia spoke of the importance of taking an early lead against Burnett in Game 5, and in the first inning it was immediately clear that Angels' hitters had completely altered their approach against him. After
Burnett, at that point, had thrown only 12 pitches, but the Angels already had four hits and a 4-0 lead. "They took a lot of pitches the first time I faced them," a somewhat shell-shocked Burnett said after the game. "This time they attacked. They made a good adjustment. They came back hacking."
Did the Angels sense, Hunter was asked, that Burnett had become so concerned with throwing first-pitch strikes that he had been locating those pitches over parts of the plate in which they were marginally easier to hit than usual? "Why would I tell you our strategy?" Hunter asked with a laugh. The change in strategy, Hunter was told, seemed clear enough to anyone who had watched both Game 2 and Game 5. "Last time we thought he would get behind, and he pounded the zone," Hunter said at last. "So we made an adjustment."
Burnett's own adjustment came four batters too late. After Morales' RBI single, he seemed to realize that the Angels would pound early-count pitches that, in the hope of accruing a few early-count strikes, might not have been thrown to his usual standard. Burnett yielded just three more hits until the bottom of the seventh, when he and
As the Yankees' equipment men loaded the club's still-dirty uniforms into red duffel bags for the team's flight back to New York,
In reality, the Angels only looked better than the Yankees during the first 12 pitches of the game. But their clever approach to those 12 pitches is what put them on track to win, and it's the major reason why they remain alive in the ALCS.