Yankees, Angels shift focus from hitting to pitching
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sunday’s do-or-die game for the
Yankees was all about pitching and the Bronx Bombers survived
with a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels put the Yankees on the brink of elimination with
a 19-hit attack in Friday’s Game Three that produced an 11-7
win for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five playoff series.
New York, known for the power hitting that produced 229
homers this season, scored their season-saving run on Sunday on
a weak, seventh-inning chopper to third by Derek Jeter.
Outstanding pitching by starter Shawn Chacon and a key
double-play grounder induced by reliever Al Leiter had limited
the Angels to two runs and four hits over seven innings.
A relieved Yankees manager Joe Torre then turned the ball,
and the game, over to relief ace Mariano Rivera.
“You stop managing at that point in time,” said Torre.
“I trust him so much, because I know one thing, above
anything else. Whether it works or not, you know that he’s
going out there with the biggest heart in the world.”
Rivera, with 56,000 fans rocking Yankee Stadium with their
roar, set down all six batters he faced without allowing a ball
out of the infield.
The slender Panamanian, who notched his major
league-leading 34th postseason save, said he would be ready to
go again in Monday’s deciding Game Five contest in Los Angeles.
“I’ll be ready for tomorrow, definitely be ready for
tomorrow,” he said.
“Well, we feel good. We have to go out there and do it.”
Rivera saluted Chacon, who came over in a midseason trade
with the Colorado Rockies.
“Chacon was outstanding. Chacon was tremendous in his first
time being in the playoffs, doing it in Yankee Stadium, facing
elimination. It was tremendous and I’m proud of him.”
Rivera also said he could go two innings if needed.
“I can’t stop. If I have to go two, I have to go two.
That’s the way it is. And tomorrow is going to be the big one.”
The pitchers on both sides were brilliant as each team
could manage only four hits in the game.
Los Angeles did not get a hit until the fourth inning off
Chacon, and the Yanks were held hitless by the Angels’s John
Lackey, a late replacement for fever-stricken scheduled starter
Jarrod Washburn, until the fifth.
“That was an outstanding performance by John Lackey,”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
“Unfortunately, Chacon matched him pitch-for-pitch.”
Game Five will feature the Angels’ Bartolo Colon (21-8)
against New York’s Mike Mussina (13-8), who remained in
California following Wednesday’s Game Two on the chance the
teams would return for a climactic decider.
“Now we can reunite with Moose again because we haven’t
seen him in about five days,” Torre said.
“But we’ll get to see him again tomorrow.”