The ALCS loss is still fresh in the minds of Angel fans and as painful as it might be, it is time to take a look back and see what exactly went wrong against the New York Yankees:
- The Angels starting pitching is good but not great - All that starting pitching depth didn’t do the Angels much good did it? Sure the Angels had several good starting pitchers but they didn’t get any great performances from any of them really. The Yankees did get great performances from their starters and that is why they won. John Lackey is about to get paid like an ace and pitched decently, but he sure didn’t pitch like one, nor did any other Angel pitcher. Without knowing they have one unstoppable ace to bail them out in the series, the rest of the team put too much pressure on themselves to perform. Suddenly that failed trade for Roy Halladay is looming large.
- You still can’t run teams to death if you can’t get on base – Hitting .236 with a .300 OBP is no way to run circles around a team. The Yankees biggest weakness was their mediocre defense. Yet the Angels never could put consistent pressure on their gloves to force them to breakdown. They had just four steals the whole series and that just isn’t good enough. To be fair, the Yankee defense actually seemed to play over their heads, especially Mark Teixeira who bailed out the other Yankee fielders on more than one occasion and Johnny Damon who somehow always managed to be positioned just right to catch some very well struck balls.
- They just weren’t lucky – Maybe I just have a skewed memory coming off a loss, but I don’t really recall any “lucky” bounces going the Angels’ way in the ALCS. It seems like the Yankees got almost every break in the series. Like that ball that Jeter took off his chest in Game 6 only to have it bounce right to Cano. Or A-Rod’s Game 2 home run, one foot shorter and that ball stays in the park and maybe the Angels win the game. I can’t think of a similar play that ended up going in the Angels’ favor.
- Who is supposed to carry this team? – You know you have a problem when the best hitter in the series for your team is Jeff Mathis. The Angels scored a bunch of runs during the regular season and have a deep line-up, but what they lack is that one scary monster hitter that can hit any pitcher at any time. Not one hitter on the Angels put the fear of God in Yankee pitching and made them nervous just knowing that the guy is coming up soon, kind of like what A-Rod did to the Angels. The total effect on the Angel line-up is that every Angel hitter was putting pressure on himself to carry the team but none of them succeeded, no matter how much they overswung (cough, cough… Torii Hunter… cough).
- It turns out their new found patience was actually overrated – Patience isn’t really a virtue if you can’t apply it in the post-season. For the most part the Halos were unable to wait out the Yankee pitchers and get into the Yankee bullpen. New York’s middle relief couldn’t get anyone out, but the Angels didn’t really take advantage because they didn’t do a good job of working pitch counts against the Yankee starters.
- This team just plays too tight – The Yanks flipped the script on the Halos. It used to be the Yankees who were taking things super seriously and the Angels who were just out their playing loose and having fun. The “pie in the face” Yankees were clearly the looser and more confident team while the Angels showed only a few flashes of confidence and looked to be having about as much fun as a black, homosexual rabbi at a KKK rally.
- They just blew their best chance at a title since 2002 – Here is what really hurts: this was the best Angel team since the 2002 season and they couldn’t even reach the World Series. Now with free agency looming, the Angels look like they are only going to get worse. Key players are getting older on this roster and the farm system doesn’t have many star-caliber players nearing the majors. Nor will the Angels have the same level of motivation going next year since the Adenhart tragedy will soon evolve into just a painful memory rather than a rallying point.
It sure is hard to steal bases when your butt is stuck on the desk.
Loose teams don’t throw away games like the Angels did.