Saturday, October 17, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Cardinals NL Central kings again

Sloppy Angels freeze up in ALCS opener

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[October 17, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Bundled in a red hood under his Angels cap, Erick Aybar shifted a few steps to his right and gazed straight up in the sky at a harmless-looking popup.

HardwareThen, he looked over at third baseman Chone Figgins.

Problem was, Figgins was staring straight back.

Neither infielder made a move to catch Hideki Matsui's first-inning pop, which plopped down untouched at the edge of the outfield grass for an embarrassing RBI single.

It was one of several defensive miscues by the sloppy Los Angeles Angels, who froze up on a nippy Friday night and made three costly errors during a 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees in the AL championship series opener.

The Angels pride themselves on sound fundamentals, one reason they've had so much success against New York over the years. But the AL West champions looked lost in the cold at Yankee Stadium.

The trouble started in the first inning. Left fielder Juan Rivera made a poor throw wide of second on Johnny Damon's broken-bat single, allowing Damon to reach second on the error.

Damon scored when Aybar, normally a slick fielder at shortstop, and Figgins stood frozen on Matsui's two-out popup.

Aybar's hood covered his neck and ears, perhaps making it harder for him to hear Figgins. However, it didn't appear either player called for the ball. And when it fell, starting pitcher John Lackey dropped into a crouch and screamed in frustration.

Lackey issued a two-out walk in the sixth to Melky Cabrera, who advanced to second on the pitcher's errant pickoff attempt. Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single and went to second on an error by center fielder Torii Hunter, who has won eight straight Gold Gloves.

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The shoddy play was uncharacteristic of the Angels, who made only 85 errors this season, fewest in team history. Their .986 fielding percentage matched a club record.

Los Angeles made three errors in a game only twice during the regular season: Aug. 9 against Texas and Sept. 7 at Kansas City.

The three errors Friday matched a postseason record for the Angels, done three previous times. The last was in Game 2 of the 2005 AL championship series against the Chicago White Sox.


[Associated Press; By MIKE FITZPATRICK]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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