ALCS to add to Angels-Yankees history
Halos have track record against Bombers few can claim
BOSTON -- Next stop: The Bronx, N.Y.Fueled by an emotional, stunning American League Division Series sweep of the Red Sox, the Angels' express is headed for Yankee Stadium, where the regal residents, the Yankees, will be looking to even a score or two in the AL Championship Series starting on Friday night.
After the Angels rallied for three runs with two outs in the ninth for a 7-6 conquest of the AL Wild Card Red Sox on Sunday, the Yankees polished off the Twins in another three-game ALDS sweep, bringing the curtain down on the Metrodome.The Yankees, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, are "an incredible team," one of the few in the game with a lineup as deep as the one he manages. These have been the Majors' two most consistent and persistent offenses, which could generate lots of electricity and fireworks in both ballparks. The Angels and Yankees have some history in October, and the memories are not warm and fuzzy for the Bronx Bombers and their fans. In 2002 and in '05, the Angels eliminated the Yanks in ALDS showdowns. En route to the franchise's lone World Series championship in '02, the Halos knocked out New York in four games, splitting the first two in the Bronx and then taking two in Anaheim. Three years later, in a rematch, the Yankees again split their two home games before going west and losing the decisive fifth game at Angel Stadium. Few clubs have treated the Yankees so rudely in the organization's rich and storied history as the Angels, who didn't have much history in October until Mike Scioscia took over the managerial reins in 2000. With a third consecutive AL West crown, Scioscia became the first manager in history to bring six clubs into postseason play in his first 10 seasons.
Push for the pennant
The Yankees haven't been to an ALCS since 2004, when the Red Sox chased away all their ghosts with their implausible dream of a comeback from a 3-0 deficit.The Angels' most recent visit to an ALCS also was less than satisfying. The White Sox took them out in five games in '05, winning the last four. The Angels and Yanks split 10 games this season, the Bombers taking three of four in their dazzling new digs. Scioscia, never one to tip his hand, will have a fully rested rotation and bullpen with four days off, like it or not. Joe Saunders, who won his last seven decisions to finish 16-7 after missing 2 1/2 weeks to mend his left shoulder, was set to go in a Game 4 that didn't materialize in Boston. Saunders is a Game 1 option along with John Lackey, who shut down the Red Sox in 7 1/3 innings in Game 1 in Anaheim. Southpaws are known historically to benefit from the dimensions in the Bronx, with those same inviting right-field stands in the newest version of Yankee Stadium. Saunders won his only career start in New York, yielding two earned runs in six innings. Lackey is 3-3 with a 3.76 ERA in eight career outings in New York. Neither has pitched in the Yankees' new palace. Saunders hasn't worked since Oct. 4 in Oakland when he went five innings. If Lackey is the choice, he'd be operating with seven days of rest. By going with Saunders and Lackey in New York, Scioscia would have Jered Weaver ready for Game 3 in Anaheim on Monday, Oct. 19, followed by Scott Kazmir, who worked six innings in Game 3 in Boston.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.