10/23/09 1:50 AM ET
Yanks' pivotal inning No. 7: Heaven, then 'L'
Six-run frame topped by Angels' three-run rally in Game 5
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Kendry Morales drove in the go-ahead run off Phil Hughes to answer a six-run top of the seventh inning, as the Halos fought for their postseason lives in Thursday's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, posting a 7-6 victory at Angel Stadium that forced the series back to the Bronx.
"The fans got their money's worth tonight," the Yankees' Mark Teixeira said. "With three innings left, you know those guys are going to fight. It was a heavyweight bout tonight. These are two of the best teams in baseball battling it out."
Vladimir Guerrero's single off Hughes tied the game after New York had pushed back from a 4-0 deficit, sending 10 men to the plate in the top half of the seventh. The Yankees now hold a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series, with the ALCS set to resume at 7:57 p.m. ET on Saturday, televised on FOX.
"Any time you have a chance to close out a series and you don't win, no matter what the score is, it's a missed opportunity," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But we get a chance to go to our ballpark, where we've played extremely well."
Held quiet for most of the night by John Lackey, the Yankees erupted to chase the ace and take a 6-4 lead in the top of the seventh, putting together a rally highlighted by Teixeira's three-run double, Hideki Matsui's game-tying single and Robinson Cano's go-ahead two-run triple.
Citing a low pitch count, Girardi stuck with starter A.J. Burnett. The right-hander's third career postseason effort quickly came unraveled, as the Angels broke through amid their raucous home atmosphere of the Rally Monkey and thousands upon thousands of clapping Thunderstix.
"It makes it even worse, obviously," Burnett said. "I can leave tonight and know I did my best out there and left it on the field for the team. Unfortunately, in the seventh inning, I just couldn't get it started."
Unaware that celebratory champagne had already been dispatched to the visitors' clubhouse, Burnett opened the seventh by allowing a hit and a walk before Girardi summoned lefty Damaso Marte, who saw the lead trimmed to one run as traces of the bubbly were wheeled back out of the Yankees' dressing area.
Trying to quell the damage, Hughes entered and issued a free pass to Torii Hunter, and Guerrero touched a slow roller that went past a diving Derek Jeter at shortstop into center field to tie the game.
"I was trying to be a little too fine to Hunter," Hughes said. "I got ahead of Guerrero and tried to come up and in on him. I left the ball pretty much in the middle, and he hit it in the right spot.
"It's very disappointing. We did a great job fighting back at the end of the game, and I just had one out to get. I couldn't do it."
Morales followed by stroking the go-ahead hit through the right side of the infield -- the one that sent the AL's two best clubs back to New York on separate flights.
"We're in a situation where we know what we're up against," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have to play good baseball. We have to keep playing all the outs. It's not a forgiving team over there."
Hoping to secure their 40th AL pennant and punch their ticket to the Fall Classic, the Yankees trailed early. The Halos jumped on Burnett for four runs in the first inning, spraying lasers around the Angel Stadium outfield.
Hunter cashed two runs with a single up the middle, and Guerrero followed with a loud RBI double to score the Angels' third run. Morales added a run-scoring single to left to make it 4-0 Angels before Burnett could even catch his breath.
"I think they made a good adjustment," Burnett said. "They've been a patient team for the most part, making me work and throw a lot of pitches. They came out hacking."
Six in the seventh
|Batter||Opponent||Result and situation|
|Nick Swisher||John Lackey||Flyout, one out|
|Melky Cabrera||Lackey||Double, man on second|
|Jorge Posada||Lackey||Walk, 1st and 2nd|
|Derek Jeter||Lackey||Walk, bases loaded|
|Johnny Damon||Lackey||Flyout, two outs|
|Mark Teixeira||Darren Oliver||Double, three runs score|
|Alex Rodriguez||Oliver||Intentional walk, 1st and 2nd|
|Hideki Matsui||Oliver||RBI single, 1st and 2nd|
|Robinson Cano||Kevin Jepsen||Two-run triple, man on third|
|Swisher||Jepsen||Flyout, three outs|
New York finally cracked through in the seventh with its biggest postseason outburst since Game 4 of the 2003 AL Division Series in Minnesota, stunning the sellout crowd.
After a Melky Cabrera double and two walks, Scioscia made the slow walk to the mound to take the ball from Lackey, who told his skipper, "This is my game!"
The switch-hitting Teixeira picked a good time to have his breakout ALCS moment, slugging lefty Darren Oliver's first pitch into the left-center-field gap for a three-run double.
"I was just looking for something out over the plate," Teixeira said. "I got a slider in the middle of the plate and put a good swing on it."
After an intentional walk to Alex Rodriguez, Matsui delivered a line-drive single to center field and Cano greeted Kevin Jepsen by raking a two-run double, spilling his teammates onto the field as the throw home deflected off Matsui.
The Yankees had their last gasp in the ninth inning, as Angels closer Brian Fuentes recorded the first two outs before Scioscia elected to walk A-Rod intentionally for the second time, ending the third baseman's postseason RBI streak at eight games dating back to 2007.
Even the final out would prove difficult to record. Fuentes lost Matsui to a walk and hit Cano in the back to load the bases, setting up Nick Swisher, who was looking to atone for a 3-for-28 showing in the postseason to that point.
With thoughts of redemption and a possible celebration running through his mind, Swisher popped out to end the game, ensuring the only jubilant postgame display on Thursday would be Fuentes' excited fist jab at the back of the mound.
"My postseason hasn't exactly gone the way I wanted it to, so I wanted to try to do my best to come through in the clutch for us," Swisher said. "It didn't happen."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.