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Stagnant Halos bats meet irresistible force
Stagnant bats meet unmovable force
By Anthony Castrovince
ANAHEIM -- Add it up, and it ain't pretty.
Yankees ace CC Sabathia has worked 16 innings over two starts against the Angels in the American League Championship Series, and he's allowed a grand total of two runs on nine hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts.
In Game 4 on Tuesday night, Sabathia was working on short rest and the Angels were desperate to even the best-of-seven set. Yet Sabathia was as dominant as ever, allowing just Kendry Morales' home run in eight otherwise sparkling innings to hand the Angels a 10-1 loss. The Halos now trail, 3-1, in the ALCS, one defeat from elimination, and Sabathia is a big -- 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, to be exact -- reason why.
Short rest is supposed to hinder a pitcher's performance, as is facing the same lineup twice in less than a week.
Not so for Sabathia.
WAY OFF BASE
The Angels went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against CC Sabathia on Tuesday and now are 4-for-29 (.138) with RISP in the series.
"We were hoping [his pitches] would be a little bit up or his velocity would be down to 91-92 [mph]," Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. "Sike! It didn't happen."
When the Angels fell to Sabathia in Game 1 and Hunter was asked about the cold weather, he had said, "CC was the cold weather."
In Game 4, the weather was fine, but the Angels' bats were still ice-cold. And while the heroics from the likes of Jeff Mathis, Vladimir Guerrero and Howard Kendrick produced a feel-good buzz in the Angels' clubhouse after Game 3, the fact remains that, by and large, this is a ballclub that has struggled mightily in the clutch all series.
The Angels went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Sabathia in Game 4, and they are now 4-for-29 (.138) with RISP in the series. They've left 33 men on base.
"We have to score some runs and produce," Bobby Abreu said.
This is what the Angels' Nos. 2-4 hitters have done this series:
Abreu is 2-for-16 with no RBIs, four walks and six strikeouts; Hunter is 4-for-17 with no RBIs, three walks and three strikeouts; and Guerrero is 5-for-19 with a homer, two RBIs, one strikeout and one walk.
And while those guys have had their opportunities, the chances haven't been quite as prevalent as one would have expected from an Angels lineup that thrived all season on creating scoring threats with their speed.
A GAME TO FOUR-GET
After three games in which their offense showed life, the Angels were stopped cold Tuesday by CC Sabathia in Game 4.
The onus there falls mainly on leadoff man Chone Figgins, who has been virtually nonexistent in this series. Figgins is 2-for-16 with two walks, and his next stolen base will be his first.
"They're pitching [Figgins] like he's Barry Bonds," Hunter said.
Figgins said he's not feeling any added pressure.
"I never press," he said. "I'm going to come out and do what I do. They've been able to make some good pitches. They're throwing the ball out of the hitting zone."
Sabathia is in the zone, and that's been a nightmare for the Angels' bats. Any momentum they might have built off that thrilling walk-off Game 3 win in extra-innings was crushed in Sabathia's left hand.
"To be able to shut this club down like he did is no easy feat," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
And here's the real bad news, where the Angels are concerned. Even if they were able to recover offensively and swipe the next two games out of the Yankees' clutches, they know what would be looming in Game 7.
Another date with CC.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.