Opening night is a flop for Angels

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 They were hot, having won 14 of their past 16. They clinched early, enabling them to rest regulars and shape their rotation for the playoffs, starting ace Bartolo Colon in the opener. They unexpectedly won the home-field advantage in the first round against the Yankees. And they came out almost flat as their oddly subdued crowd, getting shut down by a sore-armed pitcher who hadn’t thrown over 81 pitches in a game since Aug. 19. What a missed opportunity. What a disappointing beginning. What serious trouble the Angels are in after their 4-2 loss to the Yankees in Game 1 of their American League Division Series. In the playoffs, of course, everything is magnified. Every struggle, every bad jump on a ball, every O-for-4, and, most definitely, every loss. An opening defeat hardly ends a postseason run, but in a best-of-five series every loss looms huge. And with Randy Johnson scheduled to start for the Yankees on Friday against Paul Byrd in New York, tonight’s Game 2 here is almost a must win. Yep, one measly game into the playoffs and an Angels team that appeared out of sync all night, already needs John Lackey to come up huge, or Arte Moreno can start planning his next invasion of Los Angeles. Many of the Angels were quick to point out they lost the opening game of every series in their 2002 run to the World Series title. “It’s never in our plans to start one behind,” second baseman Adam Kennedy said. “Especially with a team like that – it’s going to be tough.” It was pointed out by several other Angels, however, they also lost the opener last year against the Red Sox. “They can say that, but last year we lost the first one and got swept,” first baseman Darin Erstad said. “This is a new year. We lost the first game, but it’s not over.” Truth is, the Angels haven’t won a postseason game since clinching the World Series in ’02. Heck, even the Dodgers have won a playoff game since then. Comparisons to ’02 are difficult to make right now. That year, the Angels were explosive. That year, they specialized in dramatic comebacks. That year, the home crowds were electric. Tuesday night’s sellout crowd suffered a blackout. Scattered ThunderStix barely made a ripple. The Rally Monkey just seemed silly again. The game was almost devoid of playoff atmosphere. Of course, falling behind 3-0 before getting your first ups does tend to quiet a crowd. Colon got the first two outs, and then gave up three consecutive singles to load the bases. Rookie Robinson Cano then drove a hit to left field. Garret Anderson, playing too shallow and getting a poor jump, ran back awkwardly and missed the drive as it landed on the grass near the track. A top outfielder should run that drive down. Instead, it fell for a bases-clearing double, and New York led 3-0 barely before manager Mike Scioscia had a chance to put on his jacket. Colon gave up another two-run in the second and had thrown almost 50 pitches after two innings. All while sore-armed Mike Mussina was setting the Angels down with relative ease. Six dull innings later and it was still 4-0 New York, and there was no remarkable comeback in the offering. “We were just kind of waiting for that one rally and it never came,” outfielder Steve Finley said. Nope, they hardly appeared as the team advertised. Leadoff man extraordinaire Chone Figgins never got on base. Anderson went hitless in four at-bats and Yankees-killer Kennedy was 0 for 3. They didn’t work counts much, couldn’t get men on base to utilize their baserunning or push their situational hitting. The air seemed to go out of the team and the crowd after one inning. All those best-laid plans, all that resting of starters, setting up of the rotation, all that momentum and it was just thud. “It didn’t work out,” Erstad said. “We didn’t win. It doesn’t matter if guys were rested or not. “Once the postseason starts, you can throw everything else out.” Including, apparently, all those good vibes and fortune and scheming from the past two weeks. One game into it, and the Angels are already in trouble. Steve Dilbeck’s column appears in the Daily News four times a week. He can be reached at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Everything had been going so right for the Angels that Tuesday must have looked foreign as a Bengie Molina sprint. Things were lined up for the Angels and then … splat. center_img ANAHEIM – Thud. The sound of the best-laid plans of mice and men, and several Angels, landing in a heap, in a deflating flop of a postseason opener. last_img

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