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Angels' first-inning scoring in Game 5 is called key to victory

An early lead will again be important in Game 6, some of the players say. It 'gave us a little more confidence in what we're doing,' pitcher Matt Palmer says.

October 24, 2009|Jim Peltz

The key moment for several Angels in their Game 5 playoff win against the New York Yankees wasn't the Angels' dramatic late-inning comeback, it was their first-inning burst of scoring.

And that ability to post an early lead probably again will be pivotal in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series tonight at Yankee Stadium, they said Friday.

"The biggest key for us, and for our momentum, was scoring early, which we hadn't done in this whole postseason," pitcher Matt Palmer said before the Angels held a 50-minute workout at Angel Stadium before flying to New York.

The Angels, who entered Thursday night's game down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, scored four times against Yankees starter A.J. Burnett before he got his first out.

In fact, the first five Angels reached base safely in the inning, tying a major league postseason record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

New York later stormed back with six runs in the seventh inning, but the Angels rallied in their half of the inning for three more runs to retake the lead.

The Yankees also loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but Angels closer Brian Fuentes got Nick Swisher to hit a pop fly that saved the Angels' 7-6 victory.

But it was the first-inning scoring that "gave us a little more confidence in what we're doing" because the Yankees also "started hitting, they came back, and we said, 'We need to turn it on again,' " Palmer said.

Other players said it was impossible to choose one key moment.

"The game as a whole showed what type of team we are," second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "We came out firing, lost the lead and got it back. Just because we go down by a couple of runs doesn't mean the game is over."

One more for Lackey?

There is a forecast of possible rain in New York for Game 6 and, if the series is pushed back a day, it's possible that Angels ace John Lackey might pitch one more time in the ALCS.

Joe Saunders is scheduled to start Game 6 for the Angels and, if they win and keep the series going, Jered Weaver is the expected starter for Game 7 on Sunday.

But Manager Mike Scioscia said in a conference call Friday that if Game 7 is delayed until Monday he might consider using Lackey on three days' rest. Lackey gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings Thursday night.

"We talked about a lot of different scenarios" in the event of a weather postponement, Scioscia said. "I think we're going to let this thing unfold a little bit and see how the weekend goes. If there is an opportunity to look at bringing a guy like John back, it's something we would certainly consider."

Temperatures in New York are expected to be considerably higher than they were for the first two ALCS games at Yankee Stadium, both of which the Yankees won in chilly conditions.


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