10/05/2002 8:23 pm ET
Big Picture: Yanks got outplayed
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The Yankees, who hold just about every postseason record there is, now are the only team to lose a postseason series to the Angels.
Anaheim's unsung starting pitching was better than the parade of New York's
marquee names. And in the one game when it wasn't, the Angels bullpen was
lights-out. The best reliever in the series wasn't Mariano Rivera but Francisco
Rodriguez, whoever he is. Rodriguez is 20 and so inexperienced that he now has
the same amount of career innings pitched in the postseason as he does in the
The Yankees can spend all winter trying to figure out how they lost in the first
round to a Wild Card team with a monkey for a mascot, but the answer is pretty
simple. In this series, the Angels were better than Aura and Mystique, and not
by just a little bit. They actually made the 103-win Yankees look bad.
They outplayed New York in every phase of the game. They homered nine times, but
they also hit-and-ran and were sacrifice bunting in the third inning Saturday.
They turned two double plays Saturday, seven in the series. They made run-saving
catches (Garret Anderson) and the Yankees (Bernie Williams) didn't. When given
an opportunity, they capitalized. And when they had the Yankees down, they went
for the kill and got it.
Who knew the Angels could do all this?
The Angels knew. This is a fundamentally sound and aggressive baseball team that
plays hard all game and thrives on rallies. It is blue collar, relentless, tough
and confident. Just like its manager. It never believes it will lose. Not even
to the Yankees. Twenty four of the Angels had never before appeared in the
postseason, and the inexperience meant nothing.
The Yankees led in every game, but the Angels won the last three. If not for
Mike Scioscia's controversial pitching moves in Game 1, it might have been a
three-game Angel sweep. But even letting a winnable game get away didn't derail
this team on a mission.
An entire series was captured in the bottom of the fifth inning Saturday, when
the Angels hit just about everything New York pitchers sent to the plate, and
the Yankees couldn't get out of their own way. No Yankee team has ever had a
worse inning in the postseason.
And no Angel team has ever had a bigger reason to celebrate. There is more than
four decades of frustration written on the pages of Angels history, some of it
painfully tragic. Winning a postseason series, especially against the Yankees,
couldn't mean more to any other organization.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This article was not subject to
approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.