Just when all looked lost, the Los Angeles Angels took a cue from an old friend.
With their Rally Monkey doing his best work in years, the Angels sent the AL championship series back to New York.
Kendry Morales drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the seventh inning, and the Angels responded to the Yankees' six-run comeback moments earlier for a 7-6 win Thursday night that trimmed New York's lead in the ALCS to 3-2.
Vladimir Guerrero's single tied it in the seventh for the Angels, who somehow didn't surrender after blowing a 4-0 lead moments earlier. New York struck immediately after manager Mike Scioscia removed ace John Lackey, with Robinson Cano capping the rally with a two-run triple.
The Game 5 theatrics continued right up to the final pitch, when Angels closer Brian Fuentes retired Nick Swisher on a full-count popup with the bases loaded.
"Everybody thought we were down," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said.
Game 6 is Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, with Andy Pettitte facing Los Angeles' Joe Saunders. Also in the forecast: a huge rainstorm.
When Cano put New York up 6-4, everything in somber Angel Stadium pointed to a clinching victory and a 40th AL pennant for the Yankees.
Instead, the Angels showed off the knack for late-game comebacks they've possessed ever since their run to their only championship in 2002, when the beloved Rally Monkey began appearing in the late innings on their scoreboard and in plush form in the stands.
Although two games in the Bronx - and shutdown starter CC Sabathia - still stand in the Angels' way, the collapse raised the slightest echoes of what happened to the Yankees' last big lead in an ALCS. The Red Sox famously rallied from an 0-3 deficit in 2004, making a late rally to win Game 4 before finishing off the biggest comeback in baseball history in seven games.
Only six teams have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win a league championship series - most recently in 2007, when the Boston Red Sox came back against Sabathia and Cleveland on the way to a title. Including the World Series, 11 of 70 teams that fell into a 3-1 hole have made the comeback.
Lackey cruised through the first six innings after Los Angeles scored four in the first, and the ace reacted with audible disappointment when Scioscia pulled him. Reliever Darren Oliver yielded a three-run double to Mark Teixeira on his first pitch, and Hideki Matsui added a tying single.
But the Angels added another comeback to a season full of them.
Jeff Mathis and Erick Aybar reached base to chase A.J. Burnett, the big-money free agent who's still winless in three postseason starts. After Mathis scored on Bobby Abreu's RBI groundout, Guerrero tied it against reliever Phil Hughes - and Morales put the Angels ahead with the latest clutch hit of his breakout season.
Jeff Weaver, who started Game 3 for the Angels, pitched a hitless eighth before Fuentes barely escaped the ninth. After two quick outs, he walked Alex Rodriguez with nobody on base before walking Hideki Matsui and hitting Cano with a pitch to load the bases for the slumping Swisher, who battled Fuentes for seven pitches before popping out.
The following is a play-by-play account of the ALCS Game 5, as written by Mike Penner with FOX40.com affiliate The Los Angeles Times:
TOP OF THE NINTH INNING (Angels 7, Yankees 6)
Brian Fuentes now pitching for the Angels. Both teams have their closers in the game. Damon lines out to Morales at first. One out, next up: Teixeira up. Teixeira flies out to right. Two outs, next up: Rodriguez. The Angels aren't about to tempt the Fates. They intentionally walk Rodriguez. Freddy Guzman runs for Rodriguez. Matsui walks on a full-count pitch. Tying run moves into scoring position. Brett Gardner runs for Matsui.Cano is hit by a pitch. The bases are loaded for Swisher, who is hitless with runners in scoring position this postseason. Swisher chops the ball to third, Figgins grabs the ball and stepping on third for the force out. Game over, Angels force Game 6 in New York? No, umpire calls the ball foul. Figgins can't believe it, but replay shows the ball was indeed foul. That's one for the umpires. Swisher works a 0-2 out to 3-2. Full count, bases loaded. Swisher pops to short. Buck: "And we're going to New York."
BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH INNING (Angels 7, Yankees 6)
Joba Chamberlain now pitching for the Yankees. Rivera welcomes him with a drive that one-hops the left-centerfield fence. Lead-off double for Rivera. Reggie Willits runs for Rivera. Tight, tense, postseason tug-of-war. Fox runs a promotional graphic: "Can Steelers Stop Vikings?" Can Fox stay focused on this game? Mathis strikes out. Aybar beats out an infield single to second. Willits moves to third on the play. Girardi decides it's time for Mariano Rivera. Yankees bring the infield in. Aybar steals second without a throw. Figgins flies to right, not deep enough for Willits to tag and score. Abreu flies to center.
TOP OF THE EIGHTH INNING (Angels 7, Yankees 6)
Jered Weaver, who started Game 3 for the Angels, replaces Jepsen. He immediately strikes out Cabrera. Posada grounds out to Weaver. Jeter strikes out swinging. Good move by Scioscia, that one.
BOTTOM OF THE SEVENTH INNING (Angels 7, Yankees 6)
McCarver calls Lackey the best pitcher the Angels have, says he was "surprised" that Scioscia replaced him. Here we go. Mathis, trying to revive Angel spirits, singles to left. Aybar walks. The tying run is on base. That's it for Burnett. Damaso Marte now pitching for the Yankees. Both Buck and McCarver are surprised by that move. McCarver describes him as the "most volatile" of all the Yankees relievers. Figgins successfully sacrifices, the runners advancing to third and second. Abreu grounds to first, Mathis scoring and Aybar moving to third. That's Abreu's first RBI of the series. Phil Hughes now pitching for the Yankees. Marte could have done a lot worse. Hughes walks Hunter. Guerrero grounds a single to center, Aybar scoring the tying run, Hunter stopping at second. Morales singles to right, Hunter scoring from second and Guerrero advanced to third. Angels grab the lead back, 7-6. Izturis strikes out swinging. Crazy inning -- Yankees score six times in the top half, Angels score three times in the bottom half.
TOP OF THE SEVENTH INNING (Yankees 6, Angels 4)
Swisher pops to center. Cabrera doubles down the right field line. Posada works the count to 3-2. There's activity in the Angels bullpen. Posada walks; Lackey can't believe it. Strike-zone graphic backs up Lackey. It was a strike. Umpires continue their slump in this series. Lackey's 101st pitch of the night is ball four to Jeter. The bases are loaded. Damon flies to left. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia comes to the mound to make a pitching change. You can read Lackey's lips; he's telling Scioscia, "This is mine! This is mine!" Teixeira, up next, represents the tying run. Scioscia knows this at bat is big for Lackey, the Angels, their fans and all of Orange County. Darren Oliver now pitching for the Angels. Teixeira did not have an RBI in this series before this at-bat. Soon he will have three -- Teixeira drives Oliver's first pitch into in gap in left-center, clearing the bases. Just like that, it's a one-run game. Rodriguez is intentionally walked. Matsui singles to center, scoring Teixeira. Just like that, it's a tied game. Kevin Jepsen now pitching for the Angels. Cano hits ball into the gap in right center. The ball bounces all the way to the wall. Both Rodriguez and Matsui score. Cano winds up at third with a two-run triple. So far, no Angels reliever has recorded an out. Swisher flies to left. It's a six-run inning for the Yankees. And now, for the second guess of the winter, if this score holds: Should Scioscia have stayed with Lackey? We know Lackey's answer already.
BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Morales strikes out swinging. Itzuris grounds to second. With Rivera at bat, an Angels fan, supposedly driven momentarily mad by the pace of this game, scales the fake rocks behind the center field fence and takes a dive into the fake waterfall. Soaking wet, he is finally removed from the game. Postseason pressure can do that to a person. Rivera hits a routine grounder to short. Crazy fan was more entertaining to watch. Subject for discussion: What does MLB need more -- instant replay or crazy fans?
TOP OF THE SIXTH INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Damon grounds to first. Teixeira flies to deep left, Rivera making the catch just in front of the warning track. Rodriguez doubles off the right field fence. Matsui walks on a full-count pitch. Cano forces Matsui at second. Angels faring much better in their LCS Game 5 than the Dodgers did in theirs.
BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Figgins strikes out swinging. Abreu grounds to second. Hunter singles to left. Hunter had 18 stolen bases during the regular season. Burnett treats him as if he stole 98. Several throws over to first. Finally, Burnett pitches to Guerrero. Guerrero flies to right.
TOP OF THE FIFTH INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Swisher strikes out swinging. Cabrera singles to center. With No. 9 hitter Molina due up, a runner on base and his team down by four runs, Yankee Manager Joe Girardi goes to his bench; Jorge Posada bats for Molina. Posada is called out on strikes. Jeter strikes out swinging. Lackey strikes out the side, now has seven strikeouts in five innings.
BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Itzuris grounds to second. In between that out and the next hitter, Fox runs a promo plugging its Sunday NFL schedule. This prompts McCarver to muse about the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Finally, Burnett pitches to Rivera and the talk has to come back to baseball. Rivera flies to left. Mathis doubles to left center. Buck calls him "a hitting machine." Mathis, a .211 hitter during the regular season, is 2-for-2 today. Aybar hits a dribbler in front of home plate, Molina grabs it and fires to first for the third out.
TOP OF THE FOURTH INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Graphic shows that Lackey is 44-1 when working with a four-run lead or better. Right then, Teixeira singles to center. Angels fans watching at home want fewer graphics by Fox. Rodriguez is called out on strikes. Matsui grounds to second, Teixeira taking second. Cano strikes out swinging.
BOTTOM OF THE THIRD INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Abreu strikes out. Hunter walks and steals second without a throw. Hunter advances to third on a wild pitch. Yankees have the infield in. Guerrero hits a grounder to short, Hunter breaks for home and is caught in a rundown. Hunter extends the rundown long enough for Guerrero to reach second. With Buck and McCarver still talking about instant replay, Morales flies to center.
TOP OF THE THIRD INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Jose Molina flies to right. Jeter grounds to second. Damon hits a sharp grounder headed for right field. Morales makes a diving stop, then throws to Lackey covering first for the out. Damon and the Yankees protest, saying Damon beat the throw. Replays back up the Yankees' argument. Tim McCarver says umpires are having a miserable postseason. But if MLB expanded the use of replays, McCarver says most games would last five hours. That means East Coast fans would have to stay up to 1 a.m. to watch the final out. It's not going to happen any time soon.
BOTTOM OF THE SECOND INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 3)
Jeff Mathis singles to right. Erick Aybar grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. Figgins flies to center.
TOP OF THE SECOND INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Robinson Cano flies to center. Nick Swisher grounds to first. Melky Cabrera is called out on strikes. After the Yankees' first two hits, Lackey has retired six in a row.
BOTTOM OF THE FIRST INNING (Angels 4, Yankees 0)
Why are the Angels down, three games to one? One-two hitters Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu are a combined 4-for-32 with no steals in this series. A.J. Burnett makes the start for the Yankees and begins by walking Figgins. Abreu doubles to right-center, Figgins stopping at third. Runners on second and third with no outs. Torii Hunter swings at Burnett's first pitch and singles to center. Both Figgins and Abreu score. The Angels lead, 2-0. With Vladimir Guerrero at the plate, Burnett throws a pitch low and outside. That has never stopped Guerrero before. Guerrero swings at it and drives it to left-center for a double, scoring Hunter. Kendry Morales singles to center, scoring Guerrero. The Angels have a 4-0 lead before making their first out of the game. Maicer Izturis flies to right. Rivera grounds into a 5-4-3 double play. Angels score four runs on four hits. Now, it's down to how well the Angels protect that lead.
TOP OF THE FIRST INNING (Angels 0, Yankees 0)
The Angels are still alive in this series, even though there's already a lot of talk about how the Yankees and Phillies match up. The Angels have their best starter, John Lackey, on the mound and hope he has enough to force the series back to New York. Lackey throws his first pitch. Derek Jeter sends it into right field for a single. Uh oh. Johnny Damon steps up and also singles to center. Before many fans settle into their seats, the Yankees have runners on first and second and no outs. Mark Teixeira strikes out for the eighth time in this series. Alex Rodriguez pops to first. Hideki Matsui grounds to first. First inning jam? What first inning jam?Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times