Yesterday afternooon, for the third game in a row, the Yankees got out to a quick start and emerged with little to show for it. Sure they wound up blowing out the Angels on Tuesday night, but only after Alfredo Aceves had made a 1-0 score hold up for five innings. Yesterday, the Yankees got two runs in the top of the first on a pair of walks, a Jason Giambi RBI single and a balk by Angels spot-starter Dustin Moseley, but Andy Pettitte gave one back in the bottom of the inning on a Garret Anderson double, a wild pitch, and an RBI groundout by Juan Rivera.
Johnny Damon led off the third with a walk, but got picked off ahead of a single by Derek Jeter, who was subsequently stranded at first base. A one-out single by Xavier Nady in the fourth was erased by a 3-6-3 double play off Hideki Matsui’s bat. Then in the fifth, Pettitte fell apart. Singles by Gary Matthews Jr., Anderson, and Guerrero loaded the bases with none out. Pettitte then rallied to strike out Rivera and Kendry Morales, and got ahead of Robb Quinlan 1-2, but Quinlan battled back to a full count before delivering a two-RBI single that gave the Angels the lead which was inflated to 4-2 when Guerrero scored on Nady’s subsequent throwing error.
And that was that. Pettite walked the next batter and got the hook. Jose Veras, Phil Coke, and Joba Chamberlain stopped the scoring there, but so did Moseley and relievers Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields, passing the game to Francisco Rodriguez. Down to their last out, The Yankees mounted a threat with a walk by Giambi and a single by Xavier Nady that put pinch runners on the corners, but Rodriguez got Hideki Matsui looking to earn his 56th save of the year and move into second place on the single-season saves list. He’ll pass Bobby Thigpen soon enough.
At that point attention turned to the Rangers-Mariners game, which was broadcast for the remaining fans on the Angel Stadium scoreboard. The M’s had an early 4-0 lead, but the Rangers tied it up with a pair of two-run homers off M’s starter Jared Wells in the fifth. Seattle got back out ahead with two runs off Kevin Millwood in the fifth, but another two-run homer tied the game back up at 6-6 in the sixth. The M’s took the lead again with a run in the bottom of the sixth and added another in the bottom of the seventh. That was enough to survive a Chris Davis solo homer off Miguel Batista in the eighth and when J.J. Putz struck out Michael Young to wrap up Seattle’s 8-7 win, the Angels clinched the AL West for the fourth time in five years.
As things stand now, the Angels will face the Wild Card team in the ALDS. As of this writing, the Rays had a 1.5 game lead on the Red Sox and the two teams were tied 1-1 in the 12th inning at Fenway. The Angels have faced the Red Sox in the postseason three times, but have lost all three series. In recent years, they’ve been swept twice in the ALDS by Boston and haven’t won a postseason game against the Sox since they held a 3-1 in the 1986 ALCS. The fifth game of that series was the game in which Dave Henderson homered off Donnie Moore in the ninth inning to prevent the Angels from reaching their first World Series. So, you think the Halos are hoping they wind up facing the Rays?