Angels get right back to work
With no off day, they beat Chicago to take ALCS lead
CHICAGO -- Yes, Orlando Cabrera said after the first game of the American League Championship Series, there is a price to be paid for those red-eye flights the Angels have had to take before each of their last two postseason games.
''I had to go shopping, man -- I didn't have any clothes," said Cabrera, who was the life of the party when the Red Sox won the World Series last October and still has the strobe lights flashing in a different clubhouse, though his postgame ensemble after last night's 3-2 Angels win -- preppy blue Izod sweater over a pullover jersey and casual slacks -- would have elicited disapproving snorts from David Ortiz.
''After we won, I didn't have time to go back home, so I had to go shopping," said Cabrera, who played a central role in the Angels' two-run third with a run-scoring infield hit and a DP-averting slide into second base. ''I slept for four hours, then went out. I took my wife with me. Why, you don't like it?"
The Angels became just the second team ever, and the first since the Dodgers in 1981, to play a postseason game without at least one day's reprieve from the previous series. But if there's a Southern California version of Elliott and Barry, they're advised to look elsewhere for someone to pitch the virtues of a good night's rest.
The Angels became the Boss's worst nightmare by eliminating the Yankees Monday after returning from the Bronx in the predawn hours. They made it into Chicago just before sunrise yesterday -- approximately 6:15 a.m. -- but again showed few signs of sleep deprivation in outlasting White Sox righthander Jose Contreras, who looms as the most imposing pitcher in this series after the Angels were forced to scratch their ace, Bartolo Colon, with a bad shoulder.
''I think everybody was tired," Angels catcher Bengie Molina said of a team that became the first in postseason history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, to play three games in three cities on three consecutive days and travel 4,700 miles to do so, ''but if you think about it, that just makes you double-tired."
Molina had sufficient energy to shut down the White Sox' running game, throwing out two runners attempting to steal, including catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who didn't steal a base during the regular season but appeared emboldened by the successful delayed steal he pulled off in Boston in Game 3 of that Division Series. He tried to run with one out in the seventh but was gunned down by Molina, who earlier caught Scott Podsednik, who is on the opposite end of the speed spectrum, after a one-out walk in the fifth.
''I thought it was a hit and run," Pierzynski said. ''I saw, 'Go.' What can you do? From what people told me, I guess I missed the sign."
Molina also was alert enough to gesture to third baseman Chone Figgins to creep in toward the plate just before Aaron Rowand bunted into a force play in the ninth, an inning that began with Figgins bungling Carl Everett's spinner for an error.
That was one of two failed sacrifice attempts in the last two innings by the White Sox, as Podsednik whiffed after two fouled-off tries trying to advance Juan Uribe (infield hit to open the eighth). Chicago got a third-inning home run from Joe Crede to cut into the 3-0 lead the Angels opened in the first three innings against Contreras, who was untouchable thereafter. But the White Sox faltered at a style of play that has come to be known as ''Oz ball" on the South Side.
''You know, we don't do the job and when we fail to do that, it's hard for us to win," said Guillen, who in addition to watching Pierzynski think he could sprout wings (maybe it was the Halo effect) saw No. 3 hitter Jermaine Dye try to bunt his way on in the sixth and pop out to winning pitcher Paul Byrd. ''We don't have the type of team that's going to score 20 runs."
The White Sox had the type of team that scored 14 runs in their series opener against the Red Sox and figured to do some damage against Byrd, the journeyman righthander who started by default and was working on three days' rest.
But Byrd rose to the challenge, holding the White Sox to five hits and two runs -- the second scoring when Pierzynski singled home Everett in the fourth -- before turning the game over to relievers Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez, who registered his third save of the postseason, striking out Crede to end the game.
The Angels, despite the steamer trunks under their eyes, showed no absence of energy, or inventiveness, in generating runs off Contreras. Garret Anderson homered to start the scoring in the second, just as he had done in Game 5 against the Yankees and Mike Mussina the night before.
Finley and Adam Kennedy opened the third with singles, and leadoff man Figgins bunted the runners over. Cabrera followed with a nubber down the third-base line that Crede gloved, but the third baseman had no play at the plate and threw too late to get Cabrera, who was credited with an infield hit and RBI.
Vladi Guerrero followed with a comebacker to the mound, but even as many in the crowd of 40,659 yelled ''home," Contreras instead elected to go to second for a possible inning-ending double play.
That became problematic, as Cabrera bore down on second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, successfully impeding Iguchi's ability to make a good throw, and Guerrero arrived safely as Kennedy scored.
''Being in the playoffs, that's not something you even think about, being tired," Cabrera said. ''You don't win a World Series in baseball without first winning a marathon, 162 games. Then you have to win the 100 meters, because everything is in a rush now after 162 games."
Yes, Cabrera said, he planned to get his rest last night. ''But I have to go shopping again today, this time for a suit."
He won't be alone on the boulevard. ''I don't have any clothes, either," Rodriguez said. ''No time to pack."