10/23/09 2:47 PM EST
Halos feel momentum favors them
Anticipation of Game 6 has team excited for New York
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Angels players expressed excitement to head to New York later in the day in preparation for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, which is set for 4:57 PT on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
"I've never been excited like I am now," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "I'm so excited for Game 6 to get going. It's going to fun, man. I never had even been so excited to pack. I went home so quick, and by 30 minutes after the game, I was packed."
The Angels are still alive in the ALCS after a wild 7-6 win in Game 5 at Angel Stadium on Thursday night that saw them get out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning before allowing six runs in the seventh inning to fall behind by two runs. But they kept their season going by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh and held on for the one-run victory.
Because of that dramatic win, the Angels feel like they have the momentum in the series despite being down, 3-2.
"I think we have some momentum for sure after winning the ballgame like that, especially with the way we did it," catcher Jeff Mathis said. "We feel confident and all we can do is go in there and play the game like we did last night."
But as Angels manager Mike Scioscia noted, it'll take more than just momentum for the Angels beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
"It's not just momentum that's going to carry you through," Scioscia said in a conference call. "We have to continue to play well and do a lot of the things in Game 6 as we did in Game 5."
Much like they did in Game 5, the Angels want to get out to an early lead against left-hander Andy Pettitte and continue to hit well with runners in scoring position -- unlike the first four games of the series, in which they struggled to cash in runners. The Yankees scored first in all four of those games.
"We're going to try to stay positive and let that carry over to the next game," Hunter said. "We need to score runs early, especially at that place with Pettitte on the mound."
But the Angels also have peace of mind knowing that the pressure isn't on them, as they still trail in the series and were down, 3-1, before their Game 5 win.
The pressure lies on the Yankees to close it out at home, especially because the storied franchise hasn't reached the World Series since 2003 and hasn't won it since 2000.
"We know we have nothing to lose," right-hander Jered Weaver said. "We're going to go out there and play our game. All we have to do is win two out of two."
The Angels are familiar with coming back from a 3-2 deficit, as they overcame that in the 2002 World Series against the Giants. But the difference in that series was that the Angels played their last two games at home and this time they'll have to play at Yankee Stadium in what looks to be rainy conditions.
Still, Scioscia believes that it doesn't matter that his team will be playing on the road instead of at Angel Stadium.
"I don't know if it really has a huge impact if we're coming back home for [Games] 6 and 7 or doing it on the road for 6 and 7," Scioscia said. "The challenge is very real, and it's a challenge that we can meet."
Only third baseman Chone Figgins and right-hander John Lackey remain from that World Series-winning team. Figgins, though, is confident his team can come back from the same deficit it faced in 2002.
"It doesn't get any better than this," Figgins said. "We just have to keep playing because we have another chance. We just have to keep fighting. There's going to be another crazy game, I'll tell you that."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.