Angels move on

Yankees go home

Anaheim's 9-5 victory completes 4-game upset

Anaheim: 10 hits, 8 runs in 5th

Postseason series win 1st for Angels in 42 years

Division Series

October 06, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - In the end, which arrived yesterday as Anaheim shortstop David Eckstein caught Nick Johnson's pop-up, experience and tradition and payrolls meant nothing. If mystique and aura are more than exotic dancers, the Angels dug in their own heels and refused to be intimidated.

The 2002 postseason no longer is decorated in pinstripes. It no longer includes subways and a monument park. As improbable as it seems, they've been replaced by thunder sticks and a rally monkey.

Perhaps it's an acquired taste. A nation will have more time to get used to it.

With no interest in making a return trip to the Bronx, the Angels closed out the American League Division Series in four games while proving their worth as October players. They sent 13 batters to the plate and scored eight runs in the fifth inning, completing their upset of the New York Yankees with a resounding 9-5 victory.

A crowd of 45,067, decked out in the home team's dominant color, once again turned Edison International Field into a red sea. It was an appropriate setting, with the Angels parting the Yankees from the playoffs.

Fans stood and screamed as the Angels completed the final at-bat and took the field for the ninth. Police on horseback made themselves visible. The first postseason series win in the franchise's 42-year history, put on hold until the Yankees scored once off closer Troy Percival, would be celebrated with fervor.

"I didn't have my head buried in the sand. I know not many people gave us a chance," said manager Mike Scioscia, whose team will travel to Oakland or Minnesota for Tuesday's opening game of the League Championship Series. "Knowing what can happen in baseball in a short series, I knew we had a good chance of winning."

The Angels had 10 hits in the decisive inning - tying the postseason record held by the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics - including a leadoff homer by Shawn Wooten that erased a 2-1 deficit. Yankees second baseman Alfonso Soriano, whose error in the third inning let a run score, whiffed on a fly ball in shallow center field. Wooten and Benji Gil each had two hits to tie a playoff record.

The 13 batters, eight singles and eight runs are Division Series records. With so many shifts in momentum in the series, the Angels left nothing to chance.

"Maybe we caught them in a bad week," said Tim Salmon. "They're a great club, but we answered the bell every time we had to."

Participants in five of the past six World Series, the Yankees will spend the off-season wondering how a $135 million payroll and a glut of talent didn't get them further. None of the Yankee starters went past the sixth inning, with David Wells lasting 4 2/3 yesterday, and they posted a 10.38 ERA.

"We were outplayed," said general manager Brian Cashman, after the Yankees lost their first Division Series since 1997. "You have to give them credit. They're a gritty club."

If the latest Yankees' dynasty started to show some cracks in the World Series last year, it was punched full of holes by a team that didn't have a heavyweight's pedigree. The Angels tallied 31 runs and 56 hits in the Division Series. They had nine home runs to make a mockery of their little-ball reputation.

The Angels weren't allowed to forget the failures in 1982 and 1986. In both seasons, the team was one victory away from advancing to the World Series - the Division Series didn't exist - but flamed out in such heart-breaking fashion that it became the stuff of legend.

Until this season, there hadn't been another chance to exorcise the demons. The Angels are making their first playoff appearance in 16 years, and the series win came in their 20th postseason game. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter appeared in his 82nd playoff game yesterday, and he's only 28.

The past was rendered meaningless yesterday. It's finally time for the Angels and their fans to move forward.

"They pitched better and they hit better," Jeter said. "They deserved to win this series."

Baseball playoffs

Yesterday's scores

Minnesota 11, Oakland 2 (Series tied 2-2)

Anaheim 9, New York 5 (Anaheim wins series, 3-1)

Atlanta 10, San Francisco 2 (Atlanta leads series 2-1)

St. Louis 6, Arizona 3 (St. Louis wins series, 3-0) Today's games

Minnesota at Oakland, 4:08 p.m., ABC Family

Atlanta at San Francisco, 7:55 p.m., chs. 45, 5 On SunSpot:For more baseball playoff coverage, including late results, visit sunspot.net/baseball

The Yankees' run

The 2002 ALCS and World Series will have a different look without the Yankees, who hadn't been eliminated in the Division Series since Cleveland did it in 1997. New York had advanced to the World Series five times in six years starting in 1996, winning four championships:

Year Opponent Result

1996 Atlanta W, 6 games

1998 San Diego W, 4 games

1999 Atlanta W, 4 games

2000 N.Y. Mets W, 5 games

2001 Arizona L, 7 games

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