Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Angels 3; White Sox 2 - Angels lead ALCS 1-0

Quite honestly, I'm not surprised the Angels won this game when you look at all of the ingredients:
  • The Angels have played well at the Cell this year
  • Byrd has come up with some stellar performances when needed
  • Many have said that with all of that travel, you hit the wall on day 2 (be wary of tomorrow night)
  • As good as Contreras has been, he hasn't been great against the Angels
  • The White Sox offense is good, but facing the Yankees offense is like swinging a weighted bat
Byrd was terrific. Let's not forget that he was pitching on short rest. His last start was Friday, and he threw a fair amount of pitches, though he wasn't extended. He got tagged by Crede, who has been very hot to end the season, on a hanger, and he was hit hard at times, but not hard enough. Contreras was also fantastic, really only making one mistake. For the second time in as many nights, the opposing starter was let down by his defense. After a single by Finley, a pefectly executed hit and run single by Kennedy, and a sac bunt by Figgins, Cabrera bounced one to third. With Finley breaking on the play, Crede's moment of indecision allowed the run to score, and he failed to retire Cabrera at first, leaving runners on first and third. Vlad then bounced back to the pitcher. Instead of getting the easy out at home (with Kennedy running), Cabrera attempted to start an inning ending double play, but the ball was hit too softly, and a great take out slide by Cabrera allowed the run to score. 3-0 Angels, and that was all they would need.

On the flip side, the Angels weren't forced to pay for their mistakes. Kennedy tried to make an impossible play on a bad bounce of a ball that shattered Uribe's bat. He threw it away, allowing Uribe to reach. Just an aside, anyone else notice how few balls go into dugouts now that Mo Vaughan fences have been erected in front of dugouts everywhere? Anyway, after Podsednik struck out (he failed to get the bunt down), and Iguchi popped up, Jermaine Dye singled. It wouldn't matter after Konerko flew out. In the ninth, Figgins misread and botched a wacky bounce on a ball off the end of Everett's bat. He redeemed himself by making a great play on a sacrifice attempt by Rowand, throwing out pinch runner Ozuna at second. A fly out and a strike out later, and the Angels had their first series opening win since 198.....I won't say it. Since you know when.

Scioscia continues to push the right buttons in the post-season. Two runners were erased on the basepaths, including Scott Podsednik on a first pitch pitch-out, which Byrd, Molina, and Cabrera executed perfectly. It was a good example of how the Angels covered for the errors, and made the White Sox pay for theirs. That was the difference. Six of the last seven Angels runs have come either on outs or plays that should have been outs. It's tough to score enough runs that way, but hopefully the productive outs and lucky miscues are just giving the bats some time to heat up.

Wash will give it a go tomorrow night if he can think straight. He'll face Mark Buerhle. Those two met up back in September (a game which I attended). Neither figured in the decision. The Angels won in 12 innings, Vlad scoring from second on a bunt by Molina. Speaking of Vlad, he finally hit the ball hard, driving Rowand to the track on a ball I could have sworn was gone off the bat. I still maintain, he and Figgins have to produce for the Angels to win this series. They've got the first one out of the way. They needed a split, and by winning game one, they've given themselves a chance to head home 2-0.

Check out what they're saying on the other side: South Side Sox; Exile in Wrigleyville. Vince, the Cheat, and I think Keith as well, are all BTF guys, so it's all good. Vince and I may not speak at the next meet-up, though.

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