The Angels got to American League Championship Series because they did the little things right all year.
Then against the Yankees they didn’t. That is why their season came to an end.
The series started with a routine pop-up landing between two Angels players who did not communicate. It ended with them being unable to field two bunts — two errors on two consecutive plays — that clinched a game six win for the Yankees 5-2, and that gave the Yankees a series win 4-2. New York will now take on Philadelphia in a series that few in Los Angeles will want to watch.
Like the entire series, in this game the Angels showed heart and fight, but not enough to make up for shaky starting pitching backed up by defensive lapses.
The Angels actually jumped out to a quick lead — hot-hitting catcher Jeff Mathis got his fifth double of the series to lead off the third inning, and two batters latter Bobby Abreu drove him in with a single to right. That was Abreu’s first hit this series with runners in scoring position.
But the fourth was where the Yankees win started. A walk to Robinson Cano, a rare hit by Nick Swisher (that might have been a sign) and another walk, this time to Derek Jeter, loaded the bases for Angels starter Joe Saunders. Next up, Johnny Damon singled to left driving in two runs. Angels manager Mike Scioscia stuck with Saunders, who gave up a single to Mark Teixeira whose single loads the bases again. Scioscia still stuck with Saunders against Alex Rodriguez, and he drew a walk (on a pitch even Rodriguez was caught saying was a strike) to drive in another run. Finally that is it for Saunders and Darren Oliver comes in and gets a double-play ball to end the inning.
But by then the Angels are in a hole 3-1 that they never got out of.
Andy Pettitte settled in for six innings of one run ball, followed by a scoreless seventh inning from Joba Chamberlain. Then Joe Girardi went to his ace, Mariano Rivera, asking him to throw two innings.
The Angels got to Rivera in the eighth. Chone Figgins, having his first good game at the plate in the playoffs, singled to start the inning. He eventually came around to score on a Vladimir Guerrero single. It was 3-2.
That was when the Angels defense fell apart. Again. In the eighth Cano walks (again), Swisher made a sacrifice bunt that pitcher Scott Kazmir fields and throws to first but Howie Kendrick drops, so it is men on first and second. Next up, Melky Cabrerra makes another bunt that Kazmir fields, then throws over Kendrick’s head, allowing Cano to score. Two bunts, two ugly errors.
The end result (after a Teixeira sacrifice fly) is a 5-2 Yankees lead, that becomes a 5-2 win.
It was a frustrating way for the Angels to lose, not playing like they did all season. It was frustrating for Angels fans. But when the games were on the line, this time it was the Yankees that made more big plays. That is why they will continue on and the Angels will have to think about next year.