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'D' betraying Halos at worst possible time

'D' betraying Halos at worst time

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NEW YORK -- Who are these guys, and what have they done with the once-fundamentally-sound Halos?

If things don't improve soon, Los Angeles will have all offseason to ponder that question.

The Angels return home in an 0-2 hole in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, and history is not in their favor. Only three of the 20 teams that have found themselves in such a state since the ALCS became a best-of-seven format in 1985 have gone on to win the series.

What's shocking about this difficult situation is the way the Angels got into it. They've committed five errors in the two games at Yankee Stadium, including the wayward Maicer Izturis throw that allowed the Yanks to score the winning run in a 4-3, 13-inning Game 2 on Saturday night.

"For the lion's share of the season, our guys have done a terrific job," manager Mike Scioscia said, "especially on the defensive end."

Not in this series.

On Friday night in Game 1, left fielder Juan Rivera missed the cutoff man, John Lackey threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt and Torii Hunter booted one in center field. Toss in the baffling moment in which shortstop Erick Aybar and third baseman Chone Figgins let a Hideki Matsui popup fall for an RBI single, and it was an ugly night.

Truth be told, the Angels looked better Saturday night. Figgins did have an errant throw on a would-be Mark Teixeira groundout, but starter Joe Saunders negated the gaffe by getting an inning-ending double play.

And in the 10th inning, Aybar didn't tag second while trying to turn a double play. Though Aybar got Jorge Posada at first, Melky Cabrera was ruled safe at second. The Angels eventually survived that frame, sending the game to the 11th.

Still, in the end, it was a mental miscue that undid the Angels in the final moment of a five-hour, 10-minute affair.

With Ervin Santana on the mound in relief, pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. led off the 13th with a single. Brett Gardner put down a sacrifice bunt to move Hairston to second, and Santana intentionally walked Robinson Cano to leave two on with one out.

Up came Cabrera, who sent a roller in the direction of the second baseman Izturis. Thinking double play, Izturis fielded the ball and rushed his throw to second. The ball sailed past Aybar at the bag, and Hairston scored the deciding run.

Izturis' error is just the fifth to end a game in postseason history, with the most memorable of the other four being Bill Buckner's miscue in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series vs. the Mets with the game tied to send the Red Sox home in defeat.

A LONG WALK OFF
Maicer Izturis' 13th-inning error was the fifth game-ending error in postseason history.
PLAYER TEAM YR SERIES INN.
M. Izturis LAA 2009 ALCS/NYY 13
Dean Palmer TEX 1996 ALDS/NYY 12
Bill Buckner BOS 1986 WS/NYM 10
Pete Richert BAL 1969 WS/NYM 10
Joe Bush PHA 1914 WS/BSN 12

"I'm sad that it cost us the game," Izturis told the Spanish-language newspaper El Universal. "That's the way baseball is. I was trying to be a little aggressive there. That stuff happens in baseball. I'm an aggressive player."

In this case, he was too aggressive, in the eyes of Scioscia.

"I think he was trying to make a little too much of that play," Scioscia said. "You're not going to turn two. If we get an out on any base, we're in good shape. It's a way out of the inning. I think he just reacted, thinking that he had his mind going to second base. But obviously, in that situation, the force isn't really an advantage. If it's another time of the game, it might be. But you just want to get an out there. Izzy just tried to do too much."

This isn't the way the Angels played to get to this stage. They set a franchise record for fielding percentage by committing just 85 errors in the regular season.

Here in the ALCS, it's five errors in two games, and the Angels are in a major bind as a result.

Anthony Castrovince 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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