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Angels' postseason history
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Division Series
09/30/2002 12:06 pm ET 
Angels postseason history
By Mike Scarr / MLB.com

Nolan Ryan won 16 games in 1979 to help the Angels to their first postseason appearance. (AP)
History and playoffs have basically been mutually exclusive terms when it comes to the Angels. Three visits to the postseason and no trips to the World Series do not create a rich playoff history unless one is writing a chapter on disappointment.

With their fourth appearance since the club's inclusion as member of the American League in 1961, the current Angels will attempt to deliver at least a playoff advance for the fans in Anaheim.

Here is a short look at their brief playoff history.

1979
Manager: Jim Fregosi
1st, AL West

The Angels won their first division title and subsequently made their first playoff appearance in 1979. They finished with an 88-74 record, three games ahead of the Kansas City Royals. Leading the staff in wins that year were Nolan Ryan and Dave Frost who both won 16. Mark Clear led the team with 14 saves and Dave LaRoche chipped in with 10.

Offensively, the Angels were potent, hitting .282 as a team while hitting 164 home runs, good for fourth in the AL. Brian Downing led the team with a .326 batting average, followed by future Hall of Famer Rod Carew at .318. Don Baylor led the team with 139 RBIs.

On the mound for the division-clinching win was Frank Tanana, who went the distance for his seventh victory of 1979. The hard-throwing left-hander began experiencing arm problems that year, which sidetracked his career. Tanana would eventually rehab his arm and return as a soft-tosser, winning 240 games in his Major League career.

In the playoffs, the Angels faced the Baltimore Orioles, a team that was nearing the end of its long-running dynasty but presented a formidable challenge. The O's had won 102 games in 1979, edging the second-place Milwaukee Brewers by eight games.

Baltimore was paced as always by great pitching. Mike Flanagan was 23-9, and six pitchers had at least 10 wins. Dan Stanhouse had 21 saves. The O's hit only .261 as a team but like most Earl Weaver teams, they could hit the long ball, paced by Ken Singleton's team-high of 35 homers.

The Angels dropped the first two games of the ALCS, losing Game 1 in 10 innings and falling in Game 2 in a 9-8 thriller. In Game 3, the Angels made it interesting with a comeback 4-3 win when they scored two in the bottom of the ninth.

Baltimore put any questions to rest with an 8-0 shutout in Game 4 as Scott McGregor went the distance.

1982
Manager: Gene Mauch
1st, AL West

The Angels won their second division title in 1982, again finishing three games up on the Royals. Gone was Nolan Ryan, but in his place was Geoff Zahn, who won 18 games and Ken Forsch, who won 13.

Mr. October brought his act to California as Reggie Jackson added some punch with 39 home runs as the club banged out 186, good for second in the league. Third baseman Doug DeCinces added another 30 dingers to go along with a .301 batting average and ageless Rod Carew hit .319. Jackson also led the Angels with 101 RBIs.

The '82 Angels, led by manager Gene Mauch, were a veteran bunch, averaging 30-plus years of age among the starters and the pitching staff. The season was still doubt on the final weekend before the Halos dispatched the Texas Rangers, assuring themselves of the AL West crown.

In the playoffs, the Angels met the Brewers, who'd held off the Orioles by just one game in the AL East. True to form, this series helped to further underscore the Angels' disappointment when it comes to the postseason.

The Angels went up in the five-game set, 2-0, behind solid starting pitching. Bruce Kison and 39-year-old Tommy John each turned in complete games as the Angels traveled to Milwaukee needing just one win in the next three games to earn a trip to their first World Series.

But it wasn't to be.

The Brewers came right back, winning games 3 and 4 -- in which they never trailed -- and then took Game 5, 4-3, by scoring two in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run single by Cecil Cooper. The Brewers advanced to the World Series, where they lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

1986
Manager: Gene Mauch
1st, AL West

For many baseball fans, the year 1986 is best defined by Bill Buckner and his inability to field a grounder in Game 6 of the World Series. The Mets won that game and then the series the following day. But the Red Sox and their fans may never have been treated to the displeasure of that memory if they had not emerged from the ALCS against the Angels as champs.

Mauch and his Angels managed a 92-70 record in 1986 and won the division by five games, this time over the Rangers. Reggie Jackson, Bobby Grich, Bob Boone and Doug DeCinces all remained from the '82 club, and joining them was 24-year-old rookie Wally Joyner, who led the club with a .290 batting average and 100 RBIs.

The pitching staff was overhauled. Leading the team in wins was ace Mike Witt (18-10), who posted a 2.84 ERA. Kirk McCaskill had 17 wins and 41-year-old Don Sutton, who beat them in Game 3 of the 1982 ALCS, added 15 wins. Sutton also brought a veteran presence and 200-plus innings. Closer Donnie Moore had 21 saves.

The LCS had been increased from a best-of-five series to a best-of-seven a year earlier and the Angels would wish the five-game format were still in place.

The '86 ALCS opened in Fenway Park, where the teams split, each winning a blowout. In California, the Angels won Game 3 behind seven innings by left-hander John Candelaria, and in Game 4 the Angels scored three in the bottom of the ninth, with Calvin Schiraldi hitting Brian Downing with the bases loaded to force in the tying run. Bobby Grich's 11th-inning single scored Jerry Narron for the win and the Angels led the series, 3-1.

But that was just the beginning.

The Angels led 5-2 in the top of the ninth of Game 5 when the Red Sox scored four runs to take a one-run lead. The key moment occurred, though, when Moore had Dave Henderson in the hole with two strikes and two out -- the Angels were one strike away from going to the World Series. Moore, instead, surrendered a two-run blast that gave Boston the lead.

The Angels tied the game in the bottom half but then lost in 11 innings, 7-6, on a Henderson sacrifice fly. The two games in Boston were laughers, with the Red Sox winning 10-4 in Game 6 and 8-1 in Game 7, advancing to the World Series.

Whether or not Game 5 was when the Red Sox "won" the series is a matter of debate. The Red Sox did win the game but the Angels still led the series 3-2 as the teams headed back to Boston. Momentum, however, was seized by the Red Sox and the Angels simply never recovered and have never again been at the doorstep of the World Series.

The Red Sox would suffer their ultimate disappointment a few days later, but for the Angels, that one pitch, that one swing, that one elusive strike, has haunted the team for 16 years.

Mike Scarr is the West Coast Editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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