One Step Away
The glory and allure of the their 2002 World Series run has long faded away, but even though these ain’t your older brother’s Angels, they also ain’t facing your grandpa’s Yankees.Going up 2-1 after a beatdown of Randy Johnson, the Angels are primed to take the series sooner than later, although Saturday’s rainout makes “later” an equally possible option. Jarrod Washburn’s experience three years ago undoubtedly gives him the edge over the talented but untested Shawn Chacon, the last person Yankee fans thought would be pitching meaningful playoff games for them after the offseason acquisitions of Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright and Johnson.
Should the Angels lose, a rested Bartolo Colon – the proven ace they lacked in 2002 – will be ready to pick up the slack in Game 5. The pitching has been vital, but the bigger story is the reawakening of the offense. After a relatively quiet first two games where Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero combined for just one hit the Halos exploded in Game 3, turning ThunderStix from a product into a description.
Entry by Alex Delanian
The Angels are making a smart decision by not taking the postponed game as an opportunity to push up Colon's start to finish off the series in New York. Although Colon is in the ending stages of a Cy Young caliber year, Jarrod Washburn has been having a solid season well. Don't be misled by the 8-8 record, Washburn's 2.65 road ERA this year is something any team would welcome in a highly contested playoff series.
The other thing any team would welcome in a situation like this is Shawn Chacon on the other side of the hill. Minor success in the second half of the season aside, this is still Shawn Chacon. The same Shawn Chacon who lost the role of closer in Colorado (because the Rockies have solid pitching options lined up around Coors Field, right?), and the same Shawn Chacon who has a career batting average against of .300 against the likely starters in the Angels' lineup.
Interestingly enough, the only Angels player Chacon has had success against is Vladimir Guerrero, but that's because "strike zone" is not in Vlad's vocabulary. There's eight other players to get through, however, which means the Angels will have plenty of opportunities to keep the bats alive.
This bullpen isn't the 2002 bullpen and Game 3 aside, the offense has fallen off too, but with two very winnable games ahead, two talented pitchers ready to take the mound and an overrated White Sox squad looming afterwards, these Angels have the potential to fulfill Arte Moreno's dream of turning this squad into L.A.'s team.
Entry by Alex Delanian