posted 8 years ago
ANAHEIM, Calif. They were baseball's best over the long, hot summer. Then came October, and another big chill. The Los Angeles Angels seemed to have it all: a powerful lineup strengthened by newcomers Torii Hunter and Mark Teixeira, an impressive rotation headed by John Lackey, and a bullpen anchored by record-setting closer Francisco Rodriguez.
They won 100 games for the first time in franchise history, with eight of those victories coming in their nine meetings with the Boston Red Sox, and baseball observers praised the Angels as a team that did the little things correctly.
All that wasn't enough.
The teams with the best record in each league both flopped in the first-round, with the Chicago Cubs (97-64) swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For the third time in four years, the Angels went cold against the Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs, this time often freezing up with men on base. They managed to win just one game against the team that has become their postseason nemesis, and their hopes of bringing the series back to Anaheim for a fifth and deciding game essentially ended with a failed squeeze bunt, of all things.
"We played much better this series than going back to '04 or '07 against them," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Indeed, since they were swept by the Red Sox in the first round in both those years. The Angels' 5-4, 12-inning victory in Game 3 this year is their lone win in the last 13 postseason contests against Boston dating to Dave Henderson's momentum-turning home run for the Red Sox off Donnie Moore in Game 5 of the 1986 AL championship series.