Who to blame on the Angels for Tuesday's Game 1 loss against the New York Yankees in the American League Division playoffs?
Is it Bartolo Colon, who after two outs, gave up four straight hits to give the Yankees the lead?
Is it Garret Anderson, who could not reach a liner over his head hit by Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano that led to the three runs in the first?
Is it Angel Manager Mike Scioscia who played Anderson in left field for the first time in what seems like weeks?
Is it Adam Kennedy who flied out with runners on second and third to end the inning in the bottom of the second?
Is it Darin Erstad who struck out three times before singling home a run in the ninth?
I could go on but suffice to say: The Angels' Game 1 loss was no one's fault and everyone's fault.
Some will want to point fingers at Garret Anderson and truthfully I also question whether the Angels' gimpy-legged outfielder should have been in left field.
But in the end, it comes down to the Yankees outplaying the Angels Tuesday - but not by much as it turns out. After the first two innings, the Yankees got bupkiss for the rest of the game.
But the Yankees were able to hold the Angels to only two runs and the Yankees made the plays on defense. And that was it. As many people predicted, the Angels bats could go silent this series. For most of Tuesday, they were.
Having said that, I saw a lot of positives in the Angels' loss. Steve Finley produced some nice at bats for the Angels, including the one in the second inning, where he fouled off some pitches and hit a ground rule double. The Angels rarely made out on the first pitch; many of their at bats were intent on making the pitcher work. Even Vladimir Guerrero, the king of first pitch swinging, worked a three-two count at one point
during the game.
And the Angels did make the Yankees work. The Yankees used five pitchers' to the Angels' two. And in a short series, that may not make a big difference. But the Angels still have two big guns - Kelvim Escobar and Francisco Rodriguez - which they can toss out late in the game tonight.
It was nice, though, during Tuesday's game to watch the Yankee fans and realize that - ever since they choked against Boston last year - they've got nothing. Because although they may have 26 World Championships, they are also responsible for the world's greatest collapse.
And if you think about it, isn't that a great thing? Now anytime the Yankees get up in a series, all you have to ask is: Is it time to choke yet?
Anyway I went to Tuesday's game but missed the beginning because of traffic. But I was pleased to find that former Angel closer Troy Percival threw out the first pitch. Even though he's with the Tigers, it was a classy move by both the Angels and Percival to make that happen.
The Yankees throw Chien-Ming Wang tonight which could cause problems for the Angels. They've never faced Wang before and guys like that have the tendency to look like Cy Young against the Angels. Also, Wang apparently has induced quite a few ground balls against teams since he came back from injury this
year. That could also cause problems for the Angels - who have two guys who can clog up the basepaths in Bengie Molina and Juan Rivera. But Wang was hit hard in his last start against the Red Sox, so let's all cross our fingers, shall we?
The Angels will counter with John Lackey tonight. The big, goofy-looking Texan has beaten the Yankees twice this year so I'm crossing my fingers that he has a third win in him tonight. He strikes out a lot of batters but also has the tendency to walk a lot of batters, as well - and the Yankees like to walk.
So there we have it. It's about five hours before the first pitch and the Angels know what they have to do. They've been down one game before against the Yankees (in 2002) but Darin Erstad had a good quote in the L.A. Times today. He basically said, sure we were down one game in 2002 and won but last year we were down one game and we were swept.
Good point. It's basically win tonight for the Angels or face the possibility of a long, gloomy flight back home from New York this weekend.
But then again even if the Yankees win tonight, they could always choke.
See how easy it is?