This time, Angels can take blame

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week They’re down two games to one in the first-to-four American League pennant series for more reasons than Angel Stadium’s disappointed fans can fit on a cardboard sign. They’re down because they aren’t hitting, beginning with the indispensable Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero. They’re down because their pitchers, even John Lackey, have been no match for the White Sox starters. They’re down because their gloves and throwing arms turned erratic at the wrong time, Jarrod Washburn’s error two nights earlier having put the Angels in a hole hours before Pierzynski and Eddings put them in a snit. “‘Our guys have moved on,” manager Mike Scioscia said before Friday’s game. “I feel the same way. We didn’t play the game we needed to play to win the other night.” That goes double for this night. There are two ways to look at the Angels’ Game 3 performance, both bad. Either they came out flat because they’d been crushed by what happened Wednesday in Chicago, or this game had nothing to do with that one. ANAHEIM – Well, that was one way for the Angels to put Doug Eddings behind them. The worst way. Sure, Jon Garland pitched well for Chicago, keeping the Angels in the slump that Mark Buehrle put them in. But shouldn’t they have worked more than one walk from a pitcher who hadn’t been on the mound in almost two weeks? Yes, Figgins, Guerrero or Garret Anderson could wake up the offense at any time. But since they’re hitting .129, .233 and .200 respectively in the playoffs, what’s the reason for optimism? I know, the inconsistent hitters got this far because of the strong pitching. But suddenly the starters are teetering, Washburn and Lackey lasting just five innings, and the relievers are on the ropes, Scioscia having gone to his bullpen seven times while Chicago’s Ozzie Guillen has troubled his pen once. Thus the series fell back into the hands of the players. The Angels’ Game 1 victory had been played in a daze after their rainout-wrecked travel schedule had them saying, “If it’s Tuesday, this must be U.S. Cellular Field.” The White Sox’s Game 2 victory had been blurred by the third-strike mix-up that some creative soul dubbed The Hidden Call Trick. Eddings was booed when the umpires emerged from the backstop before Game 3, again when his name was announced, again every time a batted ball drew fans’ attention toward his assigned post on the right-field line. A sign in the stands behind home plate noted Eddings’ umpiring shirt number 88 and asked, “What 87 Other Guys Couldn’t Make It?” By mid-game, though, the fans had other problems on their minds, except for the few who will blame Eddings for anything bad to happen to the Angels ever again. Lackey flopped in the October tough guy’s new role as Angels staff ace in the absence of sore-shouldered Bartolo Colon. The first four White Sox hitters went single-sacrifice-double-home run, Paul Konerko’s rising moon shot to the right of the bullpens making it 3-0. The Angels’ batting order began the night with one run to show for its past 15 innings of work, having gone 0 for 9 with runners on second and third in that U.S. Cellular dead zone. The team that handed Garland his first loss of the season in late May, and thumped the Kennedy High of Granada Hills kid in September, couldn’t lay a glove on him when it mattered the most. Figgins got on base in the bottom of the first with the leadoff man’s second walk of the whole postseason, but Guerrero bounced into a double play. Darin Erstad lined a double into the right-field corner with two out in the second, but he was thrown out sliding as he not-so-smartly tried to make it a triple. “I made a read, and I made the wrong one, and I screwed up,” Erstad said, rejecting the suggestion that he’d been desperate to make something happen. Between Erstad’s hit and Adam Kennedy’s soft single over third baseman Joe Crede’s head in the sixth, the Angels couldn’t knock one of Garland’s pitches beyond the infielders. That Doug Eddings, he makes me so … ah, never mind. It was 5-0 Sox before Orlando Cabrera’s two-run homer in the sixth raised visions of Scott Spiezio and a Game 6-like comeback. Then the last 10 Angels went out in order against Garland in this biggest test yet of their much-discussed resiliency. “Against a guy like that, when you see a pitch to hit, you have to take advantage,” Erstad said. “We didn’t.” It’s not the umpires beating the Angels anymore. It’s the White Sox. Kevin Modesti’s column appears in the Daily News three days 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!center_img After their 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday evening in which the Angels had nobody to blame but themselves and the enemy pitcher, the home team has bigger worries than the bad call that may or may not have cost them the previous game. OK, that third strike to A.J. Pierzynski the other night was not in the dirt. But now the Angels are hip-deep in it. last_img read more