Thursday, June 16, 2011

2005 ALDS: Santana saves the day

The New York Yankees and the newly renamed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were common participants in the postseason in the early part of the 2000s. Entering the 2005 postseason, the AL East champion Yankees had made the playoffs in 10 straight seasons, while the AL West champion Angels had been there two of the past three years. In a rematch of the 2002 ALDS, they were pitted against each other, with the Angels getting the home field advantage.

Liked they seem to do so often during their run of dominance in this stretch, the Yankees won the first game of the series on the road, scoring three runs in the first and another in the second before holding on for a 4-2 win. The Angels bounced back to win Game 2, then dropped 11 runs on the Yankees in a Game 3 victory. With two chances to advance to the ALCS, the Angels blew a seventh-inning lead to lose Game 4, bringing the series to a decisive Game 5 in Anaheim.

The Game
Things looked bleak for the Angels. Game 5 starter Bartolo Colon had come out of the game after just one inning with an injury and his replacement, Ervin Santana, promptly gave up two runs to the Yankees in the first postseason inning of his career. With postseason veteran Mike Mussina on the mound for the Yankees, this looked like another postseason series the Yankees would find a way to win.

But the Angels didn't look at it that way. They were postseason veterans by this time, and they had won a World Series more recently than the Yankees, anyway. So, faced with a 2-0 deficit in the second inning and with the game already to their bullpen, the Angels fought back.

Garrett Anderson, who had been around long enough to earn the nickname Mr. Angel, led off the bottom of the second with a home run. Later in the inning, number nine hitter Adam Kennedy hit a two-run triple to give the Angels the lead. After Santana got the Yankees out in the third, the Angel offense struck again, adding two more runs to make the score 5-2.

From there, it was a question of how many innings Santana could give the Angels. Normally a starter, he was used to pitching deep into games, and on this night he gave the Angels 5 1/3 solid innings. When he gave up a home run to Derek Jeter to lead off the seventh inning, Santana's night was done, and the real relievers went to work. Kelvim Escobar came in first, getting the last two outs of the seventh and the first two of the eighth. From there, closer Francisco Rodriguez took over.

It wasn't easy, though. It never is when you're trying to beat the Yankees. After Alex Rodriguez grounded into a double play to make it two outs in the ninth, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield both reached for the Yankees. With Hideki Matsui batting representing the go-ahead run, Rodriguez finally closed the door, forcing a ground out to first to end the series.

The ALCS started promisingly enough for the Angels, as they beat Chicago on the road in Game 1. In Game 2, they were one out from forcing extra innings Escobar struck out A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski ran to first, thinking - or pretending - that the ball hit the dirt. Though replays showed that it didn't, he reached anyway.

The White Sox won the game three pitches later, and the reeling Angels never recovered, losing all three games at home as the White Sox advanced to the World Series.

The Rundown
16. L.A. Angels 5, N.Y. Yankees 3 (2005 ALDS)
17. Texas 5, Tampa Bay 1 (2010 ALDS)
18. San Francisco 3, Atlanta 1 (2002 NLDS)
19. N.Y. Yankees 5, Oakland 3 (2001 ALDS)
20. Seattle 3, Cleveland 1 (2001 ALDS)
21. Chicago 5, San Francisco 3 (1998 NL Wild Card tiebreaker)
22. N.Y. Yankees 7, Oakland 5 (2000 ALDS)
23. Los Angeles 4, Houston 0 (1981 NL West Division Series)
24. Montreal 3, Philadelphia 0 (1981 NL East Division Series)
25. N.Y. Yankees 7, Milwaukee 3 (1981 AL East Division Series)
26. Seattle 9, California 1 (1995 AL West tiebreaker)
27. Chicago 5, Atlanta 1 (2003 NLDS)
28. Houston 12, Atlanta 3 (2004 NLDS)
29. N.Y. Mets 5, Cincinnati 0 (1999 NL Wild Card tiebreaker)
30. Cleveland 8, Boston 3 (1948 AL tiebreaker)
31. Houston 7, Los Angeles 1 (1980 NL West tiebreaker)

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