10/05/2002 03:07 am ET
Good Stanton pitch, bad result
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Of the 308 pitches made in Friday night's Game 3 of the Division Series, some were just bad and some simply weren't good enough.
But only one was too good: Mike Stanton's to Adam Kennedy on a 2-and-1 count leading off the eighth inning of a 6-6 tie.
Kennedy swung mightily, trying to re-enact his home run four innings earlier, but Stanton's saw-off heater cracked his bat, resulting in a deceptive fly ball into shallow right.
Raul Mondesi sped in and toward the line, got leather on the ball but couldn't catch it.
"Raul probably makes that catch, if he doesn't break his bat," Stanton said.
Instead, the Angels had the one final break they needed. Darin Erstad's double converted it into a 7-6 lead and, counting Tim Salmon's two-run homer later in the inning, the Angels converted it into the 9-6 victory for a 2-games-to-1 lead in the series.
"A couple of the balls they hit weren't on mistake pitches," Stanton said. "But once it leaves your hand, you can't do anything about it."
At the ultimate key moment of the game, neither could Mondesi.
"I tried to do my best and catch it. I always think I'm going to make the catch," Mondesi said. "I was playing pretty deep -- I didn't want a ball hit over my head -- but I did get a good break on it."
As Mondesi raced in, he reached down with both hands but couldn't reach low enough. "I got my glove on it," he said.
He came up a few inches short. Did the thought of diving ever enter his mind? "No, not really."
Mondesi is the Yankees' top corner outfielder, his defense and arm being two of the main reasons New York GM Brian Cashman had acquired him from Toronto in midseason. How ironic for the key play of a pivotal postseason series to find him.
"Yeah, it looked like Mondesi reached down with two hands," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, shrugging lightly. "I'm not sure if it could have been easier for him if he went for it one-handed."
However, the mere fact that Torre raised the notion betrayed his belief that, yes, it would've been the better approach.
One play in a 16-run game does not deserve exposure as the one which tipped the outcome. However, the outcome of that too-good pitch tipped off Stanton's frustrations.
"I made some quality pitches," said the left-hander who took the loss for allowing four hits and three runs in 1 2/3 innings.
The Yankees believe in execution and results, not in omens and bad luck. Yet Stanton appeared ready to buy the notion that doing well may not be enough to handle the Angels.
"They've got some guys really locked in. You can tell by how they keep fouling off pitches," he said.
In this game, the Angels fouled off 17 pitches with two strikes, spoiling the good ones while waiting for a bad one.
Or one that is too good.
"Mike Stanton was very courageous tonight, the way he went about it," Torre said. "He's not afraid of anything."
Not even having his best effort turn out all wrong.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.