ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- As soon as David Eckstein settled under
the popup, the red-clad crowd of 45,067 at Edison Field began
And when the Anaheim shortstop caught it for the final out, a
most stunning American League Division Series was over.
While the New York Yankees sat and stared blankly from the
first-base dugout, the Angels and their fans cheered as never
before, having beaten the big, bad New York Yankees 9-5 to win the
best-of-five series 3-1.
''It's been a long time coming for myself and this organization,
a lot of blood, sweat and tears,'' Tim Salmon said after the Angels
won a postseason series for the first time. ''To finally come
through and do it, it's just special.''
Shawn Wooten homered and hit a run-scoring single during an eight-run
fifth inning as the wild-card Angels put an emphatic end to 42
years of frustration.
''I didn't have my head in the sand, a lot of people didn't give
us much of a chance,'' manager Mike Scioscia said.
''The perspective is, it's one rung up the ladder,'' he said.
''It has to give us confidence to beat the incredible club we just
The no-name Angels hit .376 -- the highest ever in a postseason
series -- against a vaunted pitching staff Yankees manager Joe Torre
had called his best in his seven-year tenure.
And New York's 8.21 ERA was its worst in 57 postseason series.
''It really got ugly for us,'' Torre said. ''I have no reasoning
for it or excuse for it. It's a bad taste right now. They played a
whole lot better than we did. They did what they needed to do and
we weren't there.''
By losing, the four-time defending AL champions were the first
team eliminated from the playoffs this October.
The Angels, meanwhile, play at either Oakland or Minnesota in
Game 1 of the AL Championship Series on Tuesday night.
Born as an expansion franchise in 1961 as the ''other'' team in
the Los Angeles area, the Angels made the playoffs only three times
before this year.
They blew a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALCS against Milwaukee
in 1982 and were one strike away from the World Series in 1986
before losing the last three games to Boston.
That's six chances to win a series, and six defeats.
It was a different story Saturday.
''Nobody gave us a chance against the Yankees. Maybe we caught
them on a bad week, I don't know. You can't say enough about how
our club's playing,'' said Salmon, the longest-tenured Angels
The Angels, who won a club-record 99 games during the season,
took advantage of another collapse by Yankees pitching -- this time,
David Wells got roughed up.
Torre gave the Angels credit, but wouldn't say they were a
better team than the Yankees.
''I'm too proud to say that,'' he said. ''We were beaten by a
team that played a whole lot better than we did this week.''
Benji Gil, like Wooten a seldom-used right-handed batter
inserted by Scioscia against Wells, also had two of his team's
postseason record-tying 10 hits in the fifth, which ended with the
Angels on top 9-2.
The Angels have played in 20 postseason games in their history
while the Yankees have won 26 World Series, including four of the
But it's the Angels, who battered New York pitching for 56 hits
and 31 runs in this four-game series, who are moving on.
And for the first time since 1997, the Yankees aren't.
Following the Yankees' Game 7 World Series defeat against Arizona last
year, owner George Steinbrenner stood in the locker room and vowed
his team would make it back.
The Yankees signed the biggest free agent on the market, Jason
Giambi, and the Boss personally lured Wells to win games just like
''There's no doubt it's disappointing,'' Giambi said. ''We
worked hard, got 103 wins, but they just beat us. No excuses. I
thought we played great, to be honest with you. They just played
Long owned by singing cowboy Gene Autry until his death in 1998,
the Angels are now controlled by The Walt Disney Co., which is
trying to sell them.
Among the champagne-soaked visitors in the clubhouse was Autry's
''This is great to see,'' she said. ''The fact that these guys
still remember and still love Gene is very heartwarming to me.''
Wells, who brought an 8-1 lifetime record in postseason play
into the game, limited the Angels to three hits and one run in the
first four innings.
Then came the disastrous fifth when the Angels, who hit a major
league-leading .282 during the season, erupted.
Wooten, who had only three home runs during the regular season,
hit a 2-0 pitch over the left-field fence for the Angels' ninth
homer of the series to make it 2-all.
Gil singled one out later -- the first of five consecutive singles.
With two outs, Scott Spiezio's run-scoring single made it 6-2 and chased
Wells, who was charged with eight runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Ramiro Mendoza allowed a single by Wooten and a two-run double
by Bengie Molina, and Orlando Hernandez gave up a single by Gil
before retiring Eckstein -- the 13th batter of the inning -- on a fly
Pitching on three days of rest, winner Jarrod Washburn was shaky
from the start, allowing five of the first eight batters to reach
base and using 94 pitches in the first five innings.
Kevin Appier, spared from the necessity of starting a Game 5, is expected to start the ALCS opener Tuesday at either Minnesota or Oakland. Angels coaches will meet Sunday to set the rotation for the rest of the seven-game series. ... Wells was making his first postseason start since Game 1 of
the 1998 World Series, when he was the winning pitcher in the
Yankees' 9-6 victory over San Diego that triggered a four-game
sweep. ... Anaheim's 10 hits in the fifth tied the postseason
record set by the Philadelphia Athletics in the fourth game of the
1929 World Series. ... Gary DiSarcina, the Angels' starting
shortstop throughout the 1990s, threw out the ceremonial first
pitch. ... Jeter singled in the first to become the first player in
postseason history to reach the 100-hit plateau, and added another
hit. ... The Yankees grounded into six double plays against
Washburn -- four in Game 1 and another two Saturday. Only eight
batters grounded into double plays against Washburn during the