ANAHEIM -- The Angels clinched their American League West title a week early and had plenty of time to set up their playoff rotation with their horse, Cy Young favorite Bartolo Colon, on the hill for Game 1 against the Yankees.
In other words, everything looked great until the game started.
Colon allowed the Yankees to load the bases with two out in the first inning, and rookie second baseman Robinson Cano cashed in with a three-run double. In the second inning, Jason Giambi struck with two out, smacking an RBI double.
Colon got stronger as the game went on. He shut the Yankees out through the next five innings and ended up needing only 100 pitches to negotiate seven frames.
But the Angels couldn't do anything against New York starter Mike Mussina and dropped the game, 4-2, on Tuesday, rendering their home-field advantage moot for a night and putting them in a 1-0 hole in the best-of-five series.
They'll lean on John Lackey in Game 2 and look for the type of stopper outing that they've come to expect from Colon.
A look at key statistics through Game 1 of the ALDS.
|ERA||4.00||Colon, Shields kept them in it|
|BA||.212 (7-for-33)||All quiet on the western front|
|BA w/RISP||.333||Only three chances with RISP|
|Runs||2||That doesn't get it done vs. Yanks|
|Errors||0||Defense wasn't the problem|
|Juan Rivera||.667, 2-for-3||Kept sizzling second-half swing going|
|Chone Figgins||.000, 0-for-4||Couldn't set the table|
The top of the Angels' lineup -- batters 1 through 5 -- went 3-for-19 on Tuesday night and didn't produce a run until Darin Erstad's bouncer through the middle snuck past Robinson Cano for a late run. Frozen moment
Steve Finley's two-out double in the second inning bounced into the stands over the low right-field wall for a ground-rule double, leaving Rivera at third base. The bad hop cost the Angels a run. Slick move
Manager Mike Scioscia's decision to stick with Colon after giving up three runs in the first inning and one in the second turned out to be smart. Colon found his groove -- even if the Angels hitters couldn't. Modern history
Finley is the third man to play at least 100 regular-season games at center field after turning 40 years old. The others were Jimmy Ryan of the 1903 Washington Senators and Johnny Cooney of the 1941 Boston Braves. Last word
"We're pretty good around here in letting things go, coming back the next day and getting ready to play again."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.