YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


All Angels need now is a miracle, or three

The dream of a Freeway Series appears to be as dead as the Angels appeared in 10-1 Game 4 loss to Yankees.

October 21, 2009|BILL DWYRE

It looks like the Freeway Series is now a Freeway Pipe Dream. That is, unless you are talking about the interstate between New York and Philadelphia.

Monday night, in Game 4 of their best-of-seven National League Championship Series, the Dodgers went dramatically. Tuesday night, in Game 4 of their best-of-seven American League Championship Series, the Angels just went.

Comebacks from 3-1 are not impossible, just highly improbable. That's especially true if the third loss is devastating, as it was in the Dodgers' collapse in the ninth. Or if it is wimpy, as it was in the Angels' five-hit, five-men-left-on-base, 10-1 submission to CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees.

Sabathia is not Cy Young and A-Rod is not Babe Ruth. The Angels just made it seem that way.

The Word Series will open in the American League city a week from today. If it matches the Dodgers and the Angels, Tom Lasorda will be changing water into wine at home plate at the Big A and Dean Chance will be drinking it.

The Angels will have a day off to think about things and then convene again Thursday. Until then, Tuesday night's predictable and understandably brave words will have to carry them.

"It was one loss, that's it," said Manager Mike Scioscia, a master at keeping an even keel. "Our guys are confident. There is nobody in that clubhouse who is down."

Torii Hunter, also pretty good at this even-keel stuff, but quicker with a quip, said, "We've won three in a row before. We joke about the Rally Monkey, but this one is all on us. We get it done or we don't."

Three games, three more chances, looks like a lot. In reality, it probably is mere formality. Even the Angels loyalists seemed to know that this time, despite a season of comebacks and resurrections and a team that seemed to turn every negative into a positive. The postseason is different, and the Angels, with the exception of 2002, have always seemed to struggle mightily come October.

When Hunter tapped out to second base to end the eighth inning, Angel Stadium became Dodger Stadium. Masses of the red-clad fans headed for the exits, soon to become masses of red tail lights in the parking lot. Some stayed around to mug for the big-screen cameras. Others sat quietly and soaked in the reality.

The only group having a worse night than the Angels were the umpires, who have stumbled and fumbled this series into an embarrassment for Major League Baseball. It was so bad that third base umpire Tim McClelland made an appearance at a postgame news conference -- a rare occasion, indeed -- and fessed up to blowing two calls.

But McClelland and his crew had nothing to do with the outcome of this one. The Angels took care of that themselves.

If this doesn't end with some sort of Miracle-on-34th-Street twist, then it will be yet another great Angels regular season, with yet another sour taste left from the playoffs.

"There's a terrific challenge for us," Scioscia said. "Our guys, you know, they're going to be ready to go, mentally, for sure."

If he is right, that will mean leadoff hitter Chone Figgins will have to emerge from a two-for-16 slump in these first four games; Bobby Abreu and Kendry Morales from the same two for 16; Hunter from four for 17; Mike Napoli from one for nine, and Juan Rivera from two for 17. Everybody was crabbing about Vladimir Guerrero, but he's five for 19 with a homer.

But it was more than just statistics Tuesday night.

A-Rod stole second base and there was nobody covering. Maybe they didn't see him coming because he was walking on water.

Several times, on bouncers to first base, the pitcher went to take the throw like he had never done that before: What, me? Go where?

It's a long season, and Scioscia's teams don't normally play loose mentally or physically. This night, the Angels did. The grain of hope is more than just a grain mostly because the Angels of 2009 have been resilient, if nothing else.

But down 3-1, against Cy Young and Babe Ruth, is no easy task.

In the end, it was a sad night for Los Angeles baseball.

It was learned that Manny apparently showed his true colors Monday night in Philadelphia, showering instead of sharing. And the proud Angels red is looking a little blue right now.

Oh well, at least the traffic will be lighter on the 5 next week.


Los Angeles Times Articles