Purgatory Online

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Today's game has been postponed by rain until tomorrow at 6:30 Eastern time, which gives me a little bit of a breather. I'm not sure I would've been able to concentrate enough to write an update today otherwise.

I'll take credit for calling last night's game "epic" before it occurred, but I had no idea. Just...no idea. I'm fairly sure I was more wrung out after Game 2 of the 2002 World Series, that amazing 11-10 battle that became Tim Salmon's apotheosis, but nothing else comes close. For a while, I thought I might actually be in purgatory; that the expiation of my sins would take the form of a never-ending playoff game in Yankee Stadium. Surely that game lasted as long as three ordinary games. Surely it should be worth at least two wins?

No such luck.

Still. A stunner. With everyone and their dead grandmother (outside the Halosphere) just assuming that Randy Johnson would make mincemeat out of them, the Angels announced that they just might have something to say about how this all goes down - and in the best way possible. Garret Anderson? Yeah, he showed up. Four for five. A home and a triple. Five RBI. And Figgins, who was starting to look like a postseason nonentity? Two clutch hits, and that unbelievable catch. That's twice Figgins has turned the tide against the Yankees with a great defensive play in as many days. It's the kind of play that's all or nothing; with runners on the corners going on contact, if that ball gets by Figgins at least two score, and who knows how many more after that.

I have to admit that last night also saw my darkest moment this year as an Angels fan. The fourth and fifth innings, in which the Yankees roared back to take the lead, had me literally throwing the remote, turning the television off in disgust, and going off to another room to calm down. It wasn't even the blown lead that got to me - it was the feeling of inevitability about it. The feeling, a few batters into the fourth, that the Yankees were going to come back no matter what. I suppose that's "mystique and aura" for you. But the Angels have always had the right answer for that - sure, they might come back. But then it's your turn to punch. Never stop fighting until the fighting is done.

And so the Angels will get two shots at closing this thing out - Game 4 against Chacon, then Game 5 back in Anaheim (if necessary, two words that should loosen the bowels of any Yankees fan). Jarrod Washburn remains the probable starter for tomorrow's game, though it's always possible that Colon will take the ball now that he's at normal rest.

There's no question in my mind that the postponement of today's game benefits the Angels. Both Shields and Escobar threw a lot of pitches last night, and probably would've been kept out of a game today. Though I've got a fair bit of confidence in Santana throwing long relief, it's always better to have your best weapons at the ready, and a day off should put them in shape to pitch Games 4 and 5. It also gives Bengie Molina an extra day to recover from the pitch he took to his elbow, which might have been a crucial blow to the Angels if it had broken something. Despite the contributions from everyone else at various times, Bengie has been the guy consistently carrying this team forward over the last three games. He'll be a free agent after this year, and this may well be his valedictory as an Angel. They need him, and hopefully his wing is mended enough to play by tomorrow.

There's also the fact that a day off gives the Angels a chance to recharge mentally, making themless less likely to suffer from a letdown effect. The Yankees know their backs are to the wall; there's no chance they're going to ease off for Game 4. But the Angels, playing less than 24 hours after an emotional win and not in danger of elimination, might have suffered a bit. An extra day's perspective allows them to remember that there are necks yet to be stepped upon, work yet to be done.

Just like yesterday, the baseball universe believes that the Angels won't win Game 4. But maybe the baseball universe didn't see last night's game. I did. And I believe.