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10/21/09 6:00 PM EST

Scioscia keeps cool with pressure on

Angels manager is not about to go down without a fight

ANAHEIM -- When Angels manager Mike Scioscia was a player with the Dodgers in the 1980s, he learned a little something from longtime L.A. bench coach Monty Bagsall.

Bagsall used to tell his players in the dugout that it was his job to "think the game" but he couldn't go out there and play it for them.

It may sound like a simple concept, but it's something Scioscia thinks about as a manager to keep a cool demeanor in the dugout, especially when things aren't going to plan.

Angels at a glance
2009 record: 97-65
2008 record: 100-62
AL West champs

Figgins: Staying true
Angels: Road warriors
Figgins/Abreu: Spark plugs
Bullpen: Stepping up
Figgins: The ignitor
Scioscia: Fundamental key
Vlad: Focused on present
Hatcher: Enjoying success
Scioscia: Approach the key
Aybar: More than just glove
Morales: Putting it together
Abreu: Lauded by 'mates
Wilson: Not alone
Vlad: Resume builder
Weaver: Family matters
Abreu: Hall of Famer?
Saunders: Overcame injury
Lackey: Playoff veteran
Kazmir: Ties to Morales
Jepsen: Remembering Nick
Weaver: Path to pros
Hunter: Humbled by honor
Lackey: It all began in '02
Weaver: Growing as player
Reagins: Built from within
Morales: Back in the groove
Abreu: Influence extends
Scioscia: Catcher at heart
Lackey: Halos' leader
Morales: Gomez's legacy
Abreu: Embracing his role
Jepsen: Honoring Adenhart
Lackey: Takes place as ace
Weaver: Glue of staff
Scioscia: Postseason fixture
Morales: Perseverance

And that's exactly what's happening now, as the Angels are down, 3-1, to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Per usual, however, Scioscia isn't panicking and won't let his team's predicament change his mentality moving forward.

"You have to separate yourself from living and dying with every pitch, which obviously I think all of us do, and having the ability to just sit back, think situations through," Scioscia said. "You know, at times it's tough, but it's something that's helped me to at least keep the decision process in the right direction."

So, while Scioscia is keeping his cool despite his team's situation, it has trickled down to the players in the clubhouse.

"We've got a mountain to climb," Torii Hunter said. "But being down, 3-1, I think we've won three games in a row before, so we just have to fight."

That resiliency is something Scioscia has noticed and it's a reason why he strongly believes his team can become just the seventh team in LCS history to come back from a 3-1 deficit.

"Our guys are confident," Scioscia said. "There is nobody in that clubhouse that's down. We know what's in front of us. We know where we have to get to, and there's a terrific challenge for us. And our guys are, you know, they're going to be ready to go mentally for sure."

If the Angels can mount the comeback it'll have to start with Game 5 on Thursday at Angel Stadium with ace John Lackey on the mound against right-hander A.J. Burnett.

But it'll be key for the Angels to get a lead early as they've yet to score the first run in any of the four games in the series so far.

It's been a game of catchup for the Angels, which is never a good situation against the high-powered Yankees.

"If you're always looking up the wrong end of a game with a team like the Yankees, you're not going to get it done, so we need to get out there early," Scioscia said. "Get some early runs. Get some leads, and then hold them. I think that's the only template that's going to work against a team like the Yankees."

But if the Angels are to take an early lead, it'll also have to come with good pitching by the starters, as Lackey will be followed by Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver if the Angels can extend the series.

So while the Yankees certainly have the upper hand, the series is not over in Scioscia's mind, and if the Angels can't get it done, they'll go down with a fight.

"It's not going to be easy for them to close this out," Scioscia said. "We want to play our game. This isn't done until the fourth game is won. We obviously have no margin of error, but we have to have confidence that we can go out there and get the game pitched from whatever starter is going to be out there in the next couple of games, the next three games to give our offense a chance to break out and win ballgames."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.