The Los Angeles Angels have lost to the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs yet again. But this year, it wasn't just because they were outplayed, (because they most certainly were) it was because they were out-managed. But let's get to the awful glove work first......
It seemed that Bill Buckner had come out of retirement for one more series and cloned himself to play Right and Center fields, Shortstop and Third base. Torii Hunter, a now eight time gold glove winner, looked like a youngster in his first year of hardball when he blew that "catch" in center field that dropped between himself, Howie Kendrick, and Erick Aybar but somehow nobody got charged with an error. Torii should have had his hardware stripped away from him for that play alone. Gary Matthews, who was signed as a free agent two off-seasons ago, was brought to Anaheim to help shore up a defense who was ranked second to last in the American League, (forgive me, I don't have the official stats in front of me) but looked like he hadn't played a game of baseball in months. Although he didn't get much action this season due to nagging injuries and a roster full of six outfielders who could start on any team in the Major Leagues, so I guess it's not totally his fault. Definitely sounds like a five year/50 million dollar man to me! Those, along with other misplays by Erick Aybar, and Chone Figgins, were reason enough to lose the series.
Now on to the horrific managing in game five. Mike Scioscia, one of baseball's best managers, made a miserable decision to lay down a suicide squeeze in the ninth inning. First off, this is the playoffs with your team one loss away from elimination. So I guess it makes perfect sense to call for Erick Aybar, who hadn't even made contact with a ball all series until earlier that night, to lay down a bunt. Let's also not forget that Aybar bats from the left side of the plate, giving Boston catcher, Jason Varitek, a clear view down the third base line. And never mind that Boston had been pitching Aybar inside all at-bat to make it difficult to get the bunt down. For those of you keeping score at home, let's recap this at bat......
1) There is no tomorrow for your team.
2) Erick Aybar has had a miserable series at the plate and has struggled to even make contact.
3) Boston is pitching Aybar inside which makes it difficult to get the bunt down.
4) Aybar is a lefty, giving Varitek a clear view of third base.
5) Boston is pitching Aybar inside because THEY KNOW THE BUNT IS COMING!!!!!
If you didn't watch the game, I'm sure by now you can figure out that Aybar failed to get the bunt down, which caused the tying run in the person of Reggie Willits to get hung up in a run down and tagged out. That was a nice try by Big Mike to attempt to save face by arguing that Varitek dropped the ball after the tag though.
In a season in which the Angels lost only one game to the Red Sox, A season in which John Lackey showed he could pitch, and pitch well, in Fenway Park, A season in which the Angels won 100 games and had baseball's best record, and a season in which the mighty Halo's were supposed to bring another World Series back to Anaheim, a season that ended in a devastating, but familiar fashion. Another playoff loss in Boston.