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Yankees aren't worrying about loss to Angels, despite missed chances

New York blew a three-run lead, left 10 on base, and was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in Game 3 to the Angels. But they aren't concerned.

October 20, 2009|Kevin Baxter

Johnny Damon stood in the middle of the New York Yankees' clubhouse Monday, a smile creasing his face. His team had come within a pitch or two of taking a commanding lead in the American League Championship Series, only to drop a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to the Angels in 11 innings.

But if Damon was disappointed, he wasn't showing it.

"This is what baseball is about," Damon said. "I know that the viewing audience is definitely getting its money's worth. These are two very good teams going at it."

And two evenly matched teams as well.

In their last two games, the Yankees and Angels have played 24 innings in more than nine hours and 31 minutes, combining to produce eight home runs, five lead changes and two walk-off wins, one by each team. The two managers have used 75 players.

Only to play to a draw.

When the dust cleared, the Yankees still led the best-of-seven series, 2-1. And if there was any desperation creeping into the Yankees' clubhouse, it hasn't reached Damon's locker yet.

"I don't think anyone here is frustrated," said Damon, who had one of four Yankees homers in the loss. "We know we're still up in the series. We just need to go out there and battle."

Battle like they did Monday, when they blew a 3-0 lead, rallied to tie the score in the eighth, then survived a 10th-inning scare in which the Angels put runners on the corners with no outs.

Battle only to lose an inning later on Jeff Mathis' two-out double.

But if anyone's hanging their head about that, Alex Rodriguez hasn't seen him.

"We feel pretty good about ourselves in here," said Rodriguez, whose fourth-inning homer gave him four home runs in six postseason games. "Obviously, we had some opportunities. We should have capitalized on them. But tomorrow's another game and there's a lot of good things that happened out there today and we'll build on that."

Some opportunities? The Yankees got runners on in eight of the 11 innings, only to strand 10 of them. And they were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, getting all their runs on solo homers.

But if anyone is pressing in the clutch, Jorge Posada, whose eighth-inning home run sent the game into extra innings, hasn't noticed.

"I don't think it's pressing," he said. "I think you've got to give some credit to the pitchers. It's not like they don't want to get a hit. You just want to keep getting good at-bats. That's the thing."

Oh, and there's one other thing too -- and this may be the real season behind the Yankees' "what, me worry?" attitude. Tonight, in Game 4, the Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound. The left-hander has already won a baseball-best 21 games this season -- a league-high 19 in the regular season and two more in the playoffs, including a dominating win against the Angels in Game 1 of the ALCS four days ago.

"When you lose," Posada said, "you look forward to tomorrow. And I think we've got a pretty good guy on the mound tomorrow."

--

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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