Commentary

Waiting nothing new for the Angels

L.A. has had 12 days off this postseason thanks to spread schedule, bad weather

Originally Published: October 24, 2009
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

Jeff MathisAP Photo/Kathy WillensJeff Mathis watches the rain fall before Game 6 of the ALCS with the Yankees was called.

NEW YORK -- Just what this postseason needed. Another day without a game.

"Is it eight games in 20 days, now?" Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after heavy rain canceled Game 6 of the ALCS on Saturday. "Taking us almost 20 days to play eight games -- I don't think that's the right template for baseball.''

No kidding. Due to Saturday's rain and the extended playoff schedule, the Angels have had 12 days off this postseason, which is as many as they had from June 2 through the end of the regular season. They played 113 games during that earlier span. They've played eight in the postseason. They have yet to play three days in a row.

[+] EnlargeChone Figgins
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesPerhaps the extra day off will help Chone Figgins snap out of his 2-for-19 postseason skid.

The Yankees aren't any different. This has been their postseason schedule: Day off. Day off. Game. Day off. Game. Day off. Game. Day off. Day off. Day off. Day off. Game. Game. Day off. Game. Game. Day off. Game. Day off. Day off (rain).

That disruption can affect performance as much as sloppy conditions. Playing almost every day is the essence of baseball. It allows players to get into grooves and it tests them when they slump. It provides opportunities to come back quickly from failure and also forces you to repeat yourself after heroics.

So how can players maintain their rhythm in the face of so many off days -- both contrived (a rest day between Games 4 and 5) and due to Mother Nature?

"I don't think it affects you in the playoffs,'' Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. "Your adrenaline will take over. It doesn't affect us at all. We're pumped up to play no matter what. It's not the same as the days off in the regular season. In the postseason, your intensity and adrenaline will take over. It's like you never miss a beat.''

Adrenaline is one thing, though. What about maintaining the rhythm and flow of baseball?

"If you sprinkle in one day off, like yesterday was a travel day, it's not that bad,'' reliever Darren Oliver said. "But when you add in another one, that's when it can mess with your rhythm. But at this time of year, we could have a week off and everybody would still be ready to play.''

The extra days off certainly allow teams to rest their pitchers. The rainout also would allow the Angels to start John Lackey on three days' rest in Monday's Game 7 -- if they can get that far, of course.

Aside from his rough seventh inning in Game 5, Lackey has been superb this postseason.

"We've got to get there, guy,'' Lackey said when asked whether he could start a possible Game 7. "I'll be available [in Game 6 in relief], that's all I know.''

Jered Weaver, the other possible Game 7 starter, said he expected that if the Angels win, Lackey would start the finale.

"He's our horse, and a guy who loves pitching big games,'' he said. "We all do, but obviously he's had a little more experience in that regard.''

"We've got to get past Game 6, so it doesn't matter about Lackey,'' Hunter said. "I can't even talk about Game 7 -- I'm not Negrodamus.''

Joe Saunders, who remains the Angels' Game 6 starter, said he thinks the rainout helps both teams.

"I think some of the guys who were tired or whatnot down the stretch, position players or bullpen guys, it's good for them having an extra day off,'' he said. "Having a nice dinner [Saturday] and waking up as late as you want [Sunday] and coming to the yard, that's a beautiful thing.''

Perhaps the extra day off will cool off catcher Jeff Mathis, who has six hits in his past seven at-bats. Or maybe it won't. Or maybe it will get leadoff hitter Chone Figgins (2-for-19) jump-started. Or maybe not.

"You've got to make your own rhythm, man,'' Hunter said. "You have to make it happen. You have to go get your game. You can't let it come to you. That's what we're going to do. Yeah, we have a rhythm, a good rhythm at that, coming off a big win, and every day you don't play, it can kind of melt down a little bit. But I definitely feel we're ready to go.''

Hunter said that there is more pressure on the Yankees.

"They're one game away from clinching, and I know if we were up 3-1 or 3-2 we would want to get it done. That's a lot of pressure,'' he said, adding the Angels felt more pressure when they led Boston 2-0 in the ALDS than they do now.

"We really wanted to get it done,'' he said. "All you've got in the back of your head is 'We don't want those guys to come back.' When we were in Boston, that was in the back of my head for sure, and I'm sure it was in the back of a lot of guys' heads. You don't want that to happen. And there's a lot of pressure. But the Yankees, they've been through everything. You guys put pressure on them every day. They're used to this stuff. This ain't nothing.''

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com