Here is what I wrote in my American League Championship Series Preview and Prediction post:
“But things are starting to break for the Yankees like they did in the 90’s. You can’t beat the unexplained. There will be a Joe Mauer foul ball or Nick Punto baserunning moment for the Angels in this series.”
It took all of five batters for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to have their Nick Punto moment.
That, coupled with a dominating performance from CC Sabathia made a cold night in the Bronx even colder for the Angels.
The New York Yankees beat the Angels last night 4-1 behind Sabathia’s eight solid innings and some surprisingly bad Angels defense to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven ALCS.
This game really reminded me of an NCAA tournament game where it’s a No. 13 seed plays a No. 4 seed.
The No. 13 seed plays all nervous through the first five minutes, makes silly mistakes, eventually settles down, gets somewhat back into the game, but at the end of the day the No. 3 seeds imposes their will and wins the game.
That was this game.
For an Angels team that is a veteran playoff team, they played like a bunch of amateurs last night. The bottom of the first inning set the tone for this game.
With Derek Jeter on first base, Johnny Damon hit a flare down the left-field line. Jeter went to third and Damon made a wide turn but stopped at first base.
Juan Rivera decides to throw the ball to nobody in particular and allows Damon to advance to second. Who was he throwing to? He threw the ball between second and third.
As bad of a play that was, things only got worse for the Angels. Now here comes their Punto bonehead moment of the evening.
After Alex Rodriguez’s sac fly made it 1-0 Yankees, Hideki Matsui came up with a runner on second with two outs.
Matsui hit a little pop up behind third. Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar stare at each other and let the ball drop in. Damon scored and it was 2-0 Yankees.
I really thought John Lackey was going to punch Aybar after the inning. This was such a bonehead play that you would never think it would happen to the Angels.
Unfortunately for the Angels, this wasn’t the last bonehead play of the evening.
In the bottom of the sixth, Lackey inexplicably walked Melky Cabrera with two outs. I say inexplicably because you can’t walk someone like Cabrera with two outs and no runners on base.
Let him earn his way on. He is a fourth outfielder and Lackey is throwing 3-2 curveballs to Cabrera. Terrible pitch selection.
With Cabrera now on first, Lackey tried to pick him off and throws the ball into right field. What was Lackey thinking? Cabrera had a two-foot lead at best.
Now with Cabrera on second, Jeter lines a single up the middle. Torii Hunter charges the ball, but the ball hits off the heel of his glove, and rolls behind him. Cabrera scored to make it 4-1.
With Sabathia on top of his game, four runs was more than enough. Sabathia scattered four hits, walked one and struckout seven in eight solid innings of work.
The key for Sabathia in this game was that he was locating his fastball. Up, down, in, and out, Sabathia threw his fastball where ever he wanted to. This was by far and away the best start of Sabathia’s postseason career.
The Angels want to run on the Yankees, but if you don’t get anyone on base, it’s hard to steal. Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu, and Erick Aybar—the three Angels who can steal a base, went 0-11 with three strikeouts.
And how about Chone Figgins? Can this guy get any worse? He is now 0-16 this postseason. The Angels won’t win this series if he doesn’t get on track.
Game Two is a must win game for the Angels. I don’t think they can go back to Anaheim down 0-2 and win this series.
Game Two is scheduled for today at 7:57 ET. It’s supposed to rain tonight, but right now as of 11:15 AM ET in New York, it’s not raining. I went to get bagels this morning and it’s pretty cold however.
Of course, if the game tonight does get rained out, I will keep everyone updated.
Hero for Game One - CC Sabathia
Goat for Game One - Chone Figgins
Series MVP - CC Sabathia