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October 9, 2005

Back to Anaheim
by SG

It wasn't pretty, and it was freaking nerve-wracking, and for five innings it was downright aggravating. However, the Yankees held the Angels to two runs, and scratched out three, and forced a Game 5 tomorrow night in some place in California.

Shawn Chacon pitched outstanding last night. However, in the top of the sixth a leadoff walk and two doubles gave the Angels a 2-0 lead. With the pathetic performance by the Yankee lineup to that point, I thought the game was over. John Lackey was dominating over five innings, despite working on three days rest. The Yankees managed to pull out a run in the bottom of the sixth.

Chacon still looked strong to me starting the seventh, as he retired Garret Anderson on a foul popup and then gave up a first pitch single to Bengie Molina, who is a royal pain in the ass. I would have let Chacon face one more hitter, particularly since Darri Erstad was due up and Chacon had handled him pretty easily. Chacon had only thrown 87 pitches, but he was pulled for Al Leiter.

A lot of us keep waiting for Leiter to bomb, but he's been fine in this series when kept on a short leash. He got a double play from Erstad to end the inning, and the Yankees went to bat in the bottom of the 7th. The Yankees scored two with an infield single from Robinson Cano, a clutch 3-2 walk by Jorge Posada, and then came another decision.

I was a big proponent of starting Bubba Crosby in CF due to the defensive upgrade, but as he came up now in a huge spot, it was pretty obvious that he had to be pulled. Ruben Sierra came on, and despite having a pretty horrendous season, he is still a dangerous hitter when the pitcher makes a mistake. He ripped a game-tying single.

Derek Jeter then grounded to third, and with Posada running on contact from third there was a play at the plate. Although the play at home was pretty close, it looked like a good call by the umpire, with Posada just beating the tag from Molina. The Yankees then proceeded to load the bases with only one out and a 3-2 lead and Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield due up, but got nothing else.

This could very easily have come back to bite them in the ass, except for one thing. Mariano Rivera. Rivera was put into the game for two innings, as Joe Torre removed his DH to put Bernie Williams in CF and double-switch Giambi out for defense. Given the options, this was probably the best way to handle it. I suppose they could have left Tony Womack in the game after he pinch-ran for Ruben Sierra and put him in LF with Matsui moving to center, but Womack hasn't played the OF in months.

River threw 36 pitches over two perfect innings, to nail down the victory and force a game 5. To predict what will happen would be a waste of time. Mike Mussina could be outstanding, or he could be awful. Rivera is likely only going to be available for one inning, but the rest of the staff should all be on hand as needed.

I'm not ready for the season to end just yet. Let's hope they pull one out tomorrow.