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Chone Figgins looking to end his hitting slump

Despite being 0 for 16, the third baseman will stay at the top of the order. And sometimes, Manager Mike Scioscia says, 'It only takes one hit to get a guy going.'

October 18, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

NEW YORK — Chone Figgins' run-scoring single in the top of the 11th inning Saturday night ended an 0-for-18 postseason slump. The Angels' leadoff batter also walked twice and was hit by a pitch and had a sacrifice bunt.

Before the game, Manager Mike Scioscia was asked if he would consider dropping Figgins from the leadoff spot. He has at least two decent options in Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar.

"You need production from all aspects of the lineup, and if you move Figgy to ninth, he's still hitting in front of the middle of the order," Scioscia said. "We need Figgy to become a little more productive. Right now, there aren't a lot of options to shuffle if you have seven guys in the lineup who are a little soft."

Figgins, who hit .298 with a .395 on-base percentage, 114 runs and a league-leading 101 walks this season, said after Game 1 that he is "having good at-bats but not getting any hits."

He was able to work some counts and draw some walks in Game 2, but he also struck out to open the game and flied weakly to left off closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth.

"He's been caught in between," Scioscia said. "He's passive in some counts, and sometimes he's expanding the zone and giving counts back to the pitchers.

"I know he had a rough go of it in the division series, and he didn't have a good start to the ALCS [Friday] night, but sometimes it only takes one hit to get a guy going."

Bad neighborhood

The Angels nearly handed the game to the Yankees in the 10th inning when Aybar failed to touch second on Jorge Posada's apparent double-play grounder.

With the score tied, 2-2, Posada followed Melky Cabrera's leadoff single with a grounder to Izturis, who fielded the ball close to the bag and, instead of touching the base, flipped to Aybar.

Aybar threw to first in time to get Posada, but umpire Jerry Layne ruled -- correctly, as replays showed -- that Aybar was in the neighborhood of second base but did not touch the bag.

Derek Jeter was intentionally walked, but reliever Darren Oliver got Johnny Damon to foul out to third and Mark Teixeira to ground to Aybar, who flipped to second for the inning-ending force out.

Quality start

Joe Saunders was long gone by the time Game 2 was decided, but the Angels starter pitched brilliantly, giving up two runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking one.

Double plays helped Saunders get out of the sixth and seventh innings, and the left-hander pitched out of a two-on, no-out jam in the fifth with a little help from first base umpire Bill Miller.

Cabrera and Jose Molina opened with singles, and Jeter hit a one-hopper back to Saunders, who threw to second, where Aybar caught the ball for a force and fired to first. Miller ruled Jeter out, though replays showed Jeter beat the throw. Saunders then struck out Damon to end the inning.

Going deep

Jeter's solo home run in the third inning was his 19th career postseason homer, moving him into third place on baseball's all-time list ahead of Reggie Jackson. Manny Ramirez has 29 playoff home runs, and Bernie Williams had 22.


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