Derek Jeter had it right after Friday night's ALCS Game One victory over the Angels. "The past is the past," said the Yankees captain referring to Los Angeles' prior success against CC Sabathia. But it is that familiar sounding refrain that rings true, one Jeter first uttered after the 2002 ALDS Game Four loss to the Halos, that "this Yankee team isn't the same as that Yankee team." As the Yankees have demonstrated thus far, this Yankee team doesn't seem to resemble any of the past five years either.
And while we're at it we can stop looking at reputations and start looking at results. As the usually fundamentally sound Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California looked resoundingly like the routinely fundamentally sound Minnesota Twins of the 2009 ALDS and it wasn't pretty.
If the temperatures made it feel more befitting of a Halloween night, it's no wonder that Sabathia threw like an absolute witch. CC was hitting 96 on the gun in the eighth inning and had the type of delivery that would make W.B. Mason blush. Sabathia made Angels hitters look absolutely silly allowing only four hits over eight while striking out seven.
In the first Derek Jeter (who else?) got the Yanks going with a patten base knock to right. Then Johnny Damon who after his dreadful ALDS against Minnesota couldn't have been blamed for wanting to grow a playoff beard circa 2004, picked up a broken bat hit to left, moving Jeter to third and advancing to second on the throw.
Following a Mark Teixeira pop out on a 3-0 count it was Alex Rodriguez back to the plate in his first appearance at the Stadium since his game tying HR in Game Two of the ALDS against the Twins. A-Rod got the job done with a sac fly to center bringing home Jeter, the first time the Yankees had scored first in a playoff game this October.
Then in a play more befitting of the Metrodome roof than Yankee Stadium, Eric Aybar and Chone Figgins collaborated on the worst play this side of Luis Castillo. With two outs and Hideki Matsui at the dish, Matsui popped up a John Lackey offering to the left side of the Angel infield. When the ball inexplicably landed, Damon came around to score the Yankees second run in what would be a foreshadowing of things to come for the Angels "defense."
For the first time in the new Stadium's history there were no homers on the night, the closest coming when Sabathia hit his only bump of the night in the fourth when Vladimir Guerrero launched a double off the wall in left. Kendry Morales then lifted a soft single to left-center knocking home the Angels only run and cutting the lead in half.
In the fifth the Yanks bounced back. Damon doubled to set the table, A-Rod walked, so with two on and one out Matsui came through with another clutch RBI smash to left. Damon scored and A-Rod was ruled out in a collision at home plate with catcher Jeff Mathis.
Moving to the bottom of the sixth the Yankees staged a two out rally. After a walk to Melky Cabrera that vaunted Angels defense reared its ugly head once more. Lackey threw the ball away in attempting to pick off Cabrera at first. Following that was Jeter with a smash up the box and into center where Torii Hunter booted the ball and Cabrera came home with the Yankees fourth run, increasing the lead to 4-1.
From there out Sabathia kept rolling along and after shaking off some rust Mariano Rivera added to his MLB post-season record 36th save and the Yankees just as they did in 2002 and 2005 took game one of a playoff series against the Angels, hoping that the past is in the past.