No relief: Angels bullpen falters late

Updated: October 10, 2005, 1:12 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- By the time early risers are opening their morning papers in Los Angeles on Monday, the Angels will just be getting back to their homes.

Instead of shortening the game, the Angels' bullpen made for a long, long night.

Scot Shields couldn't hold a one-run lead, and Los Angeles lost its chance to finish off the Yankees in the Bronx. The Angels wasted a two-run lead and lost 3-2 Sunday night, so instead of heading to Chicago for a day off before the start of the AL championship series, the Angels took a charter flight across the country in the middle of the night for Game 5 Monday.

At the end of the eighth inning, the Yankee Stadium organist played "California Here I Come."

Indeed.

"I didn't get the job done," Shields said.

Just hand the ball to relievers, that's all Los Angeles looked to do.

John Lackey, who wasn't even supposed to be on the mound, did just that, taking a no-hitter into the fifth as Jarrod Washburn's emergency replacement and handing a 2-1 lead to Shields in the sixth.

Shields had pitched two scoreless innings in Game 1, got Derek Jeter to hit a key groundout with runners at the corners in Game 2, then threw two more shutout innings in Game 3, getting the win for a bullpen that was extended to 5 1/3 innings.

With Saturday's rainout, he and the relievers got an extra day to recover.

Now the Angels must recover.

"Shieldsy was fine," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think his stuff was good and he was the guy that we needed to get out of that jam and finish the inning for us. Unfortunately, they grabbed the lead."

After Gary Sheffield's two-out RBI single off Lackey pulled New York to 2-1 in the sixth, Shields came in and retired Hideki Matsui.

But he allowed Robinson Cano's infield single leading off and committed the biggest mistake a reliever can make: a walk.

To a slow-footed catcher.

Whose size-12 right foot turned out to be the difference in the game.

"My walk really killed us," Shields said.

Pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra singled in the tying run -- "a sinker low and away and it caught a little bit too much of the plate," Shields said.

Then, Derek Jeter hit a two-hopper to third baseman Chone Figgins, who was playing back. He grabbed the ball, slick from all the rain that fell during the weekend, and made a one-hop throw to the first-base side of the plate.

Jorge Posada stepped on it just ahead of Bengie Molina's tag.

"When the throw came in, I thought that we had a good chance to get him out," Molina said.

He jumped up like bread flying out of a toaster to argue with plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, and Scioscia came out to argue. Didn't do any good.

"I thought he was out because I thought he hit me with his spikes, right on my arm," Molina said. "That's what my first impression was. These guys, they watched the replay and they told me that what hit me was the knee, and the foot was already on the plate. So he was safe."

New York brought in Mr. Automatic, Mariano Rivera, who got six straight outs his 34th postseason save in 39 chances.

Now it comes down to Game 5, with 21-game winner Bartolo Colon pitching for the Angels against Mike Mussina, who beat Colon 4-2 in the opener.

Winner goes to Chicago.

Loser goes to sleep.

"We've got our Cy Young winner going tomorrow," Lackey said, assuming his teammate will win the award and the game. "We're going to be just fine."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press