Fittingly, series heads to Game 5

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW YORK – One game, loser goes home. Win or start the lamenting, start looking back on games like Sunday and wondering, second-guessing. The Angels lost a game they easily could have won, lost a 2-0 lead they earned in the sixth inning, fell to the Yankees 3-2 and now come home for one final game of their division series. Both teams will travel all night, try to catch some sleep on the plane and then come back to Anaheim this evening for a final Game 5. It comes back to Bartolo Colon, their sore-backed Cy Young hopeful, in something of the Randy Johnson role: This is why he’s here. Colon is the Angels’ ace, their stopper, but never before has he needed to answer such a dramatic call. Johnson is the intimidator the Yankees brought in this season largely for big postseason moments. His failure Friday left him the subject of a weekend’s worth of New York ridicule. Now it’s up to Colon to reverse the results of his Game 1 outing, when he fell to Mike Mussina and the Yankees. Colon is not here to be the loser in two division series games, troubled back or not. “It’s Game 5,” outfielder Steve Finley said. “I don’t think anything is going to bother him.” Mussina never left Orange County and has been resting there, waiting for a possible Game 5 all weekend; Colon returned Saturday. One game with two veteran, accomplished starters. One game to decide who advances to meet the White Sox the next day in Chicago. All the other division series are over. The Angels tried to also end theirs Sunday, went with the best plan, gave themselves the best chance to advance. When scheduled starter Jarrod Washburn came down with a fever and throat infection, instead of keeping Colon in New York or going with rookie Ervin Santana, Scioscia went with probably his hottest pitcher – John Lackey – on three-days’ rest. The Angels scratched out a pair of runs against Shawn Chacon, making his first career postseason start, but a tricky seventh inning and some tough Scioscia decisions did them in. The Yankees, down to their last nine outs of the season, rallied to force a dramatic final game. “They won,” outfielder Darin Erstad said. “Now we go home and play for it all.” Chacon and Lackey both threw hitless baseball for four innings. Chacon finally allowed a hit in the fifth; Lackey in the sixth. After the Angels got run-scoring hits in the sixth on Chone Figgins’ double and Orlando Cabrera’s single, the Yankees got one back in the bottom of the inning on a walk and Gary Sheffield’s single. Sheffield’s hit was only the fourth allowed by Lackey all night, but with two outs, Scioscia elected to remove him for Scot Shields. “I was a little surprised,” catcher Bengie Molina said. “He was throwing good, but (Scioscia) has been making good decisions all year.” Lackey had thrown 78 pitches, and although he still appeared strong, Scioscia decided he’d pushed it far enough on three days’ rest. Lackey said he made a small effort to remain in the game. “A little bit, but he had already called the bullpen,” Lackey said. “It was a little too late.” In the seventh, little things and decisions conspired against Scioscia and the Angels. Robinson Cano beat out an infield hit to short. One out later, Jorge Posada worked a full count and walked. Pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra singled to tie it, and Posada took third. In a tie game, Scioscia elected not to play the infield in but at normal depth. It proved a fateful decision. With Sierra running on the pitch, Derek Jeter hit a fairly slow roller to Figgins at third. Posada broke for home. Figgins fielded the ball and threw on the run, on a hop to Molina, whose tag home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez ruled was just late on Posada. “You react the best way you can,” Figgins said. “I thought I made a good play. I got off the best throw I could. It was hit slow and I was playing back.” The Yankees went to the ultimate postseason closer, Mariano Rivera, and the final six Angels were retired in order. The Angels, who almost fell into the home-field advantage in this series, now are counting on it heavily. “We just have to play our game and not make mistakes,” Finley said. “We’re going to play hard. We’re going to play our game the way we know how. “I hope the crowd is loud.” If it is, it will be the first time this postseason. “It’s down to one game now,” Shields said. “We just have to come out and play better baseball.” The Angels need their best game now, need a game to stir memories, to build on. “We’re trying to do something new here and have all new, great memories,” Erstad said. These two teams have battled each other hard in every game. Played a series that almost demanded a dramatic final game. “The way things are going, who knows what’s going to happen?” Figgins said. Steve Dilbeck’s column appears in the Daily News four times a week. He can be reached at [email protected] last_img read more