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Angels short hops

Angels short hops

The Angels' top five hitters managed all of two hits in 6 2/3 innings against Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang on Wednesday night. That's not exactly the offensive table-setting a team is looking for when it desperately needs a win to salvage a split of the first two games of the American League Division Series.

But one of the hits happened to be Bengie Molina's two-out single to center field in the sixth inning to drive in a run that tied the game, 2-2.

The other was Orlando Cabrera's two-run, two-out single to left-center in the seventh for a 4-2 lead.

What's odd is those at-bats never should have occurred, at least when they did. Errors by the Yankees extended both innings.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez took his eye off Cabrera's high chopper to lead off the sixth. With a man on first in the seventh, Wang threw slightly wide to first on a tough play to let Steve Finley aboard on a sacrifice bunt.

Molina saved the honor of the top five hitters in the Angels' order by golfing a home run off Al Leiter in the eighth inning. Still, when the series moves to Yankee Stadium, a 3-for-19 overall performance from the top quintet will not be in the Angels' game plan.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 2 of the ALDS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 3.50 Just four runs against since giving up a three-spot in the first inning of Game 1
BA .219 (7-for-33) This team wins with pitching, doesn't it?
BA w/RISP .375 (3-for-8) Capitalizing on few chances
Runs 7 Angels took advantage of three errors
Errors 0 Defense again sound, while Yanks commit three errors

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Juan Rivera .667, 1 HR, 1 RBI Tormenting his original club
Bengie Molina .375, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs Should he bat higher this series?

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Chone Figgins .000, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs Leadoff man haunted Yankees during regular season

Behind the numbers
The Yankees' quick-striking ability is supposed to set them apart from the Angels, but they've managed just one homer -- by Jorge Posada in the ninth inning Wednesday -- in the first two games.

Frozen moment
It's hard to pin a position on the Angels' Figgins, but he was all third baseman on Wednesday, when he made a diving stop and threw out Hideki Matsui with two out and runners at second and third in the fifth. The play held the Yankees' advantage at 2-0.

Slick move
The Yankees forced starter John Lackey's pitch count up early, so Angels manager Mike Scioscia simply started his late-game relief early, sending Scot Shields out in the sixth to retire Derek Jeter, and letting Kelvim Escobar work the seventh and eighth.

Modern history
Before Wednesday, Jeter was 5-for-11 in his career and 2-for-3 this season against Shields. Yet, Scioscia went with Shields with runners at the corners and two down in the sixth. Shields forced a fielder's choice grounder. Jeter went 0-for-5 and saw his string of consecutive Division Series games reaching base end at 21 games, dating to Game 4 of the 2000 ALDS against Oakland.

Last word
"It was huge we won tonight. No matter who you're facing, it is tough being down 0-2."
-- Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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