It’s tough, man. The Yankees beat us. They’re a good team over there. We battled those guys, made a couple of mistakes and ran into a big-game pitcher, Andy Pettitte, in Game 6. They pitched well all through the series and beat us, fair and square.
We had to overcome a lot of obstacles this season. Losing Nick Adenhart, a young guy we all cared so much about, that was too tragic for words, really. We mourned and stuck together and got a lot accomplished this season. I’m proud of all these guys, for the character they showed and the way they performed through all the adversity.
We had a great season. There’s nothing to hang our heads over. We had a big mountain to climb here in New York. We got over one mountain in Boston and played those guys tough. We played some of the best games I’ve ever been a part of in my career — some of the best games all these guys have played in, I’m sure.
The Yankees have some of my favorite players, so I’m going to be rooting for them in the World Series. Why not? I’m an American League guy. Always have been, so of course I’m pulling for our team.
If I had to point to one thing as the difference, I’d say maturity. They have a lot of seasoned, smart players. They’re very mature. They know how to execute and play the game. They’re the beast of the East for a reason. Those guys are going to be tough to beat in the World Series.
I’ve been battling the Yankees since I was in Minnesota, and it looks like I’ll keep battling them. They’ve got all those guys signed for years, so that mountain will be there. We have a lot of guys who learned and grew this season, and they’ll be better off for it.
Looking back, we didn’t play Angels-style baseball in this series. We made mistakes that just aren’t like us. We should have been better defensively, for sure. But baseball’s a crazy game. Anything can happen. It could have turned our way, but it didn’t. We just have to move on.
It’s going to be an interesting winter, with so many free agents, so many decisions to make. I have a lot of faith in our organization doing whatever it takes to be successful.
Right now, it’s just tough, really tough. You play for so long, with so much passion and energy, and then it’s over. We’ll have time now to reflect and think about what we accomplished, and I think the guys will have a lot of pride in the season we had.
It was a challenge, right from the start, losing Nick and having to go forward and dedicate ourselves in his memory. I know he’s proud of the effort we all put forth. When it’s all said and done, the relationships are what matters, and this was a wonderful team to play for this season, from our manager, Mike Scioscia, all the way through the ranks.
I want to thank all of our great fans for their support and devotion. I want you all to know that we appreciate how you stood behind us, and we’ll try to reward you by going a little deeper, a little farther, next season.
We earned ourselves another trip to the big city, to New York. It wasn’t easy, but we made it happen. I’m so proud of this team, the way it keeps coming back.
The Angels are for real. I don’t think anybody can doubt that now.
Man, I was going crazy out there in the seventh inning. They scored six runs to take the lead, and we came right back to get three and then held on. Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy, right?
That ninth inning got to me. My knee started hurting me. That hasn’t happened all year. I guess it was the intensity of the moment. My heart was beating fast. It was very exciting — especially when Erick Aybar got under that last popup by Nick Swisher on the 3-2 pitch by Brian Fuentes and it was finally over.
We came out and played our game. We were aggressive right from the start. I’m not giving away any strategies, but A.J. Burnett, last time we faced him in New York, got ahead of us pounding the strike zone. We came out taking some good swings after Chone Figgins worked a walk to get us started.
Bobby Abreu stroked that double to center, which put two guys in scoring position. I got something I liked and drove it past Derek Jeter for two runs. That’s a good feeling, us getting off to a good start like that. Then Vladimir Guerrero and Kendry Morales came through with hits, and we’re up 4-0. I’m sure John Lackey liked that.
But we knew four runs weren’t safe, not against that team. Lackey pitched great, man. I had a good view of that 3-2 pitch to Jorge Posada that was called a ball. It was a good pitch, man. People are asking about Lackey reacting the way he did, but if you don’t react on a call like that, you shouldn’t be here. It’s a natural reaction, nothing bad or hostile about it. He thought he threw a strike and didn’t get the call, and it was big. I don’t blame John for reacting like he did. Any competitor would have done that.
That was a fight, a battle to the finish. Those guys never give up, and neither do we. That’s why this is such a great matchup. There’s a lot of mutual respect here, I think.
We know they’ve got Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, so it’s important to get early leads and hold onto them. That’s what we need to do against Andy Pettitte in Game 6 on Saturday. We’re looking for another good effort by Joe Saunders, who really pitched well in Game 2 against Burnett in New York.
Joe is cool, and he likes the weather cold, being from Virginia. I’m pretty sure he’ll get that kind of weather again. I don’t think it’ll be in the 70s, like it is in Southern California this time of year. But let’s not get started about the weather again. The cold didn’t beat us those first two games. We didn’t make plays we usually make. We didn’t play like the Angels.
Tonight, when we had to — we were the Angels, the team we’ve been all year. We’ve been on a mission to win this for Nick Adenhart’s family, and that mission continues.
We got what we were after, a return trip to New York. Now we plan to make the best of it and force a Game 7. But it’s one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time.
I’ve got a headache right now. This excitement is getting to me. I can use a day to relax and get ready for another battle in the Bronx.
Well, we’ve got a mountain to climb in Game 5. No getting around it. We’ve just got to get there, get to the top somehow. It is a mountain, though, no question about it. A big one.
If they win, it’s over. Yankees go to the World Series, we go home. Simple as that. Down 3-1 in the ALCS, I wouldn’t say I’m frustrated. Mad is more like it. We know baseball. It can turn around any time. We’ve got to go out there and try to climb that mountain.
Everybody is asking me how they’ve shut down our offense. They’ve go CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. And A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and a good bullpen. CC and Mariano, need I say more? But that doesn’t mean we can’t get something going, get our offense rolling again. Sure we can. We need to take it one at-bat at a time, play the way we have all season, and get this thing back to New York.
They had their big man going last night, and we’ve got our big man going tomorrow night. John Lackey, man, I’m comfortable with him out there. He pounds the strike zone, like CC did last night. We didn’t play good defense behind Lackey in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, and we can’t let that happen again. We’ve got to be on top of our game. We’ve got to play better than that.
People talk about pressure, but we don’t have any pressure down 3-1. We’re just going to go out and play the game the right way, and hopefully that’ll take us back to New York for Game 6. The pressure’s not on us. I don’t buy that at all.
We’ve been trying to get back to our game since the start of the series. We know we can do it. You don’t sweep Boston without being good. We have to get that aggressive mindset and play free but also smart.
It’s been rough offensively. We just haven’t been getting the big hit when we need it. Smooth Bobby Abreu was saying that we’re trying to do too much with runners in scoring position, that we’ve got to relax and hit the way we did during the season.
Bobby knows best. I think he’s on the money. We can’t force things. We have to be disciplined and get pitches in good spots and drive them. We need to be aggressive but play with intelligence at the same time.
It’s a mountain, for sure, but you’ve got to take it one step at a time. We don’t want this to end, and we don’t want to see the Yankees celebrate on our field. No team wants to watch that. Let’s get after it. Crank up the volume, fans, and get the Rally Monkey warmed up.
It’s time to get busy, time to go to work. Time to put on the mountain-climbing boots.
It’s an awesome place, no doubt about it. New Yankee Stadium has all the modern, state-of-the-art conveniences, and it still has that feel of the old stadium, where you always knew you were walking into history every time you played there. The field looks the same and plays basically the same, and that’s great. Why mess with a good thing?
It’s a funny thing about the old ballpark. I didn’t do very well there during the regular season, but I had some moments in October in the postseason. Even those came with a bad ending, though. The Yankees beat my Twins in the 2003 and 2004 playoffs, and that always stings. Still stings, to this day.
Lyle Spencer of MLB.com did some research and reminded me that I had some big games in the old park when it really counted. He told me I should remember that I came up big on the big stage, the biggest one, and I appreciated that.
In 2003, we won the first game of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium, 3-1. I had a triple, an RBI and two walks that day. In Game 2, Andy Pettitte beat us, 4-1. Our only run was a home run I hit, and I had another hit that day.
They beat us in four games in that series, and I ended up hitting .429. In my first playoff series, in 2002 against the A’s, I’d batted .300 with four doubles and two RBIs in five games.
I’m not that big on numbers, but it’s nice to have those next to my name, I have to admit. October baseball is what it’s all about. It always takes me back to my high school football days in Arkansas, the adrenaline and excitement and energy you feel.
In 2004, back at Yankee Stadium, we won Game 1 again, 2-0, behind Johan Santana, and I went 1-for-4. The next game was a heartbreaker. We lost, 7-6, in 12 innings. I went 3-for-6 with a double and a homer. I had a single against Tom Gordon when we scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game.
The homer came against Tanyon Sturtze with two outs in the 12th inning and gave us the lead. But the Yankees came back with two in the bottom half to win it.
That was my last postseason game in the old park. I ended up going 7-for-16 in the Bronx in those four games for a .438 average, with two homers, a triple and a double.
We ended up losing that series too, in four games, and I batted .353. It’s strange. Even though I put up some good numbers in those two series, I was left feeling nothing but disappointment and frustration.
It’s not hard to figure out why. This is a team game, and it’s all about winning. You win as a team, lose as a team.
So there we were last October, playing Boston in the ALDS, full of high hopes in my first season with the Angels. I thought we were ready. I was confident we had the best team — and it was the same deal. Heartbreak.
The numbers say I had a good series, hitting .389 with five RBIs in four games, but we lost, and it hurt way down deep. Same ol’ same ol’, and that’s something we have to change this season.
I’ve played in 20 ALDS games with a .350 average and a .563 slugging percentage. But the only time we made it to the AL Championship Series, in 2002, the Angels knocked us off on their way to the World Series title.
It’s time for the Angels to do it again. And I want to be right in the middle of it when it happens.