Both the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees did their absolute best to give away Game Five of the ALCS and ultimately both squads will be flying back to New York for Game Six. And much like that guy who jumped into the puddle out by the rock pile, each bullpen was all wet.
Early on it appeared as though the Yankees would break it open in the first. Consecutive singles from Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon had New York setup. Then a questionable strike three call to Mark Teixeira allowed John Lackey to regain his composure to retire the side un-harmed.
In the bottom half of the frame we learned just how worth it the decision was to have Jose Molina catching A.J. Burnett despite Jorge Posada's solid numbers versus Lackey. Burnett walked Chone Figgins and was then battered for five straight hits. Burnett looked like the Bugs Bunny cartoon as the hitting conga line was on.
Bobby Abreu with a single to center. Torii Hunter another two-run blast to center, scoring Figgins and Abreu. Vladimir Guererro doubled to center (am I sensing a theme here?) to knock in Hunter. Kendry Morales picked up a knock of his own driving in Guerrero. And then Burnett got Macier Izturis to fly out to Nick Swisher and Juan Rivera mercifully grounded into a double-play to end the inning, 4-0 Angels out front.
There was another "par for the postseason" poor umpiring call in the third with Damon being called out a first to end the inning.
Both Lackey and Burnett matched each other up until the seventh when things got really wild. Melky Cabrera doubled to right with one out. Posada walked on a questionable ball four call and Lackey clearly rattled subsequently walked Jeter on four straight pitches.
After Damon flew out to Rivera, Mike Scoscia pulled a frustrated and adamant Lackey who wanted to finish the game.
With Darren Oliver on to pitch, Teixeira took him deep to the gap in left, clearing the bases for a three-run double. The Angels then issued a free pass to Alex Rodriguez with first base open to pitch to Hideki Matsui. Matsui drove in Teixeira with a base knock to tie things at 4-4.
Following that L.A. called on Kevin Jepsen and Robinson Cano rocked him for a two-run triple giving the Yanks their first lead 6-4.
But in the bottom frame it was New York's turn to make some questionable pitching moves. The Yankees neglected bringing him in during the seventh inning of Game Three and I would've put David Robertson who has been their most dependable reliever outside of the great Mariano Rivera this postseason on to pitch.
So Burnett was left in to face the Angels deceptive at least in this series, bottom of the order. A.J. yielded a hit to Jeff "chestnuts roasting on Yankees pitching" Mathis and walked Erick Aybar, possibly the worst walk in Yankees history since David Cone walked Doug Strange in Game Five of the 1995 ALDS.
While I didn't have a problem with Burnett starting the inning, I can't buy the line of him only throwing 80 or so pitches to that point. If that's the case why was Andy Pettitte pulled after cruising along with only 81 pitches in Game Three of the ALDS against Minnesota?
The Yankees brought on Damaso Marte who got his job done. Figgins bunted the runners into scoring position and Marte got Abreu to ground into a fielder's choice which scored Mathis. Phil Hughes was brought on which begs the question if you were going to bring him in regardless, why not start the inning with him?
Hughes walked Hunter. Then instead of throwing a curve three feet off the plate or going way up the ladder, Hughes grooves a fat one to Guerrero and Vlad deposits it to center tying the contest at 6-6. Morales took Hughes to right and just like that L.A. was right back in the driver's seat 7-6.
After Mariano Rivera pulled off another magician act reminiscent of Game Three, the Yanks staged a little rally in the ninth. Unfortunately unlike Game Two, A-Rod who had his first RBI-less game of the playoffs was intentionally walked. The Yanks had the bases loaded with two outs and Swisher who has made some heads-up plays in the field continues to look lost at the plate. After coming back from 0-2 Swisher worked the count to 3-2, but Brian Fuentes got Swisher to pop-out to Aybar and the Angels took Game Five 7-6.
So the series shifts back to New York, where both managers hope the bullpen phones are disconnected.
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