Purgatory Online

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tonight's game has something of a momentous feel to it. October in Yankee Stadium, in the rain and the cold. Randy Johnson bringing his 98 mph heat against Paul Byrd, whose crafty-veteran status is solid. The Yankees know that a loss puts them up against elimination with a final game in Anaheim. The Angels know that Johnson is a guy who ends playoff hopes for a living. New Yorkers want vengeance for '02. Angels fans want vengeance for '95.

The most important question for the Angels, though, is how to get Chone Figgins going. Figgins had a lousy post-season last year, hitting and fielding poorly. While he's made some spectacular plays at third so far this year, that's simply not going to be enough. The Angels can make do without contributions from Anderson or Guerrero in any given game; we all know that they run hot and cold, and the atmosphere has nothing to do with it. At this point, though, we're starting to creep into the territory with Figgins where he's going to start provoking mutters about his ability to produce in the playoffs. Fair or not, that's the kind of thing that perpetuates itself.

Tonight would not seem particularly auspicious for Figgins; in addition to Johnson being just plain good, Figgins is significantly worse as a right-handed hitter. Nevertheless, despite the confluence of factors arrayed against him, he's going to have to find a way to block out the distractions and treat this game - and the rest of the playoff run - as if it were any other part of the season.

Suspected lineup:
Figgins - CF
Cabrera - SS
Anderson - LF
Guerrero - RF
Molina - C
Rivera - DH
Erstad - 1B
Quinlan - 3B
Kennedy - 2B