Championships are won and lost with two things: Heart and Confidence.
Both were on display yet again in Anaheim where the defending World Champ Boston Red Sox took Game Two of their ALDS series with the Angels.
In my previous article, I mentioned that Boston had gamers, and that the Angels, for all their success, really lacked that "get it done" mentality.
Once again, the heart of the Angels order continued to hit the ball, though not powerfully, as Mark Teixeira, Vlad Guerrero and Torii Hunter all had productive nights.
The Angels even managed some drama late in the game.
I'm not going to get into a detailed recap here. Most of you watched the game, or at least the highlights, and aren't reading this for any sort of play-by-play.
I am, however, going to pull a total about face and chastise my favorite team.
Tonight, I'm not pulling punches.
I'm letting it all hang out, and I'm starting right now.
Why this series is on the ropes:
I wrote in my preview of Game Two that Santana would have to be error free tonight to give the Halos a fighting chance, and for the most part, he pitched well.
Well, except for that whole "Four-run first inning" thing.
The middle relief core tried to do their thing, and they escaped some jams late in the game to keep it within striking distance.
K-Rod, in what very could have been his last appearance as an Angel, was decent in the 8th, but got lit up in the 9th, all personified when J.D. Drew, the Sox outfielder who'd been plagued w/ back problems of late, showed the Angels that his back feels fine by belting a top of the 9th two run homer to recapture the lead.
I understand that baseball is a game of numbers. Let's look at some from this series.
Angels extra base hits this series: 1
Angels Left on base by Howie Kendrick: 11
of Boston Red Sox runs scored with 2 outs this series: 8/11
of Extra base hits by Boston Red Sox this Series: at least 9 (I'm not lookin 'em up)
I love the Angels. I love Kendrick. I bleed Halo red.
I don't sense that this team has the spark.
They lack that player that takes 'em to the next level—that gets on and causes problems, a la Jacoby Ellsbury, David Eckstein, the super utility version of Chone Figgins (though he redeemed himself somewhat tonight, getting on base three times, and even tying it in the 8th, before, well, see above.)
The Red Sox have swagger. They walk into a stadium knowing they can beat any team, anytime, anywhere. They are the reigning World Champs, and they continue to act like it.
This entire series they've brought the game to the Angels, and the Angels have been on their heels.
The meat of the Angels order, all batting roughly .400-.500 this series, have not combined for an extra base hit.
Think about that.
Until Figgy tripled in the 8th tonight, the Angels had 18 consecutive singles, and are something like 50+ post season innings without a home run.
Jason Bay has two in as many games, and this is the first playoff series of his career.
You can't win playoff games single-ing all the way. Not when you're playing the Red Sox, again, in October.
I thought for a minute that Figgins triple in the ninth would be the one that started it all. My brother-in-law and I high fived, screaming at Figgins on third, and celebrated the first extra base hit for the Halos of this ALDS.
Then GA popped up, fouled out.
That personifies this team. They go up there and they hope they can get base hits.
The Red Sox just go up there and hit.
I've spent a good deal of time on local radio call ins, and on this site, and my own blog talking about my frustration at the Angels lack of Media respect, and lack of coverage throughout baseball. I always thought it had to do with the time zone, or ok, this year the AL West sucked so bad, the Dodgers (2-0 in their series Vs. the Cubs, I might add) would have won it. We won 100 games, best record in baseball, some real sluggers in Hunter and Teixeira, this year was different.
The reason the Angels play under the radar of every outlet in the nation is because while they are absolutely built for the regular season, they can't get it done against one team in October.
That one team just happens to face them every time they get there, and the series shifts to their home stadium Sunday, in Boston.
In the football movie The Replacements, Gene Hackman coaches a ragtag bunch of scab players through a player strike, and in the big playoff game moment typical of all sports movies, he goes to the locker room at halftime, losing considerably, to the reigning champs.
A reporter stops and asks him what it'll take to turn the game around in their favor, and he says simply:
"Heart. Loads and Loads of heart."
The Halos have mine in their hands, and the rest of their loyal fans, too.
It's up to them to do something about it Sunday.
Nothing like baptism by Fire.
one and out.
We'll see quickly if they have what it takes to prove every sports columnist in the country wrong.
Go Halos. Time to show 'em what your made of.