10/23/09 2:40 AM ET
Breakdown: Seventh inning of ALCS Game 5
Six-run outburst provides short-lived lead against Angels
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
It was offensive efficiency at its best. And for that brief moment, it seemed to be the exact push the Yankees needed to clinch their first World Series berth since 2003.
"That's what we were definitely hoping," left fielder Johnny Damon said. "But they definitely had other plans."
The Yankees would rather forget what happened next -- a snappy Angels rally that extended this American League Championship Series at least one more game by virtue of their 7-6 win. But even that could not diminish what the Yankees accomplished in the seventh inning of Game 5, roaring back from a 4-0 deficit to at least temporarily move to within nine outs of the World Series.
The trouble started with one out in the seventh, after Melky Cabrera doubled, when Jorge Posada stared at a knee-high pitch that was ruled ball four. Lackey walked Derek Jeter to load the bases, then retired Damon on a popup, before Angels manager Mike Scioscia replaced Lackey with Oliver for a key matchup against Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.
"My head said, 'Let's try to turn Tex around and get out of that inning right there,'" Scioscia said. "I have a lot of confidence in John. He might have had enough to get in there and get Tex out, but I thought to turn him around at that point was the move. Obviously, it didn't work."
So valuable for the Angels all season, Oliver snapped a first-pitch breaking ball through the heart of the zone, where Teixeira drove it to the wall in center. One pitch, three runs.
SIX IN THE SEVENTH
|Nick Swisher||John Lackey||Flyout|
|Mark Teixeira||Darren Oliver||3-run double|
|Alex Rodriguez||Oliver||Intentional walk|
|Hideki Matsui||Oliver||RBI single|
|Robinson Cano||Kevin Jepsen||Two-run triple|
"I was just looking for something out over the plate," Teixeira said. "I got a slider in the middle of the plate and put a good swing on it."
After Oliver intentionally walked Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui lined Oliver's third pitch -- and third straight fastball -- into center field for a game-tying single. Four pitches, four runs.
Then came a pitching change and an at-bat by Robinson Cano, who watched Jepsen's first two pitches breeze by before smacking the third one into center for a two-run triple. Seven pitches, six runs -- and just like that, the Yankees had a lead.
A short-lived lead, but a lead nonetheless.
"With three innings left, you know those guys are going to fight," Teixeira said of the Angels' ensuing comeback. "It was a heavyweight bout tonight."
If nothing else, the top of the seventh reaffirmed the notion that this Yankees offense remains as dangerous as ever. Positively silent all evening, the Yankees went from zero to 60 -- or zero to six, rather -- with hardly a moment's notice.
The Yankees proved yet again that they are capable of rallying at any moment. And the Angels certainly know it.
"These guys, bam-bam, with the good offense that they have, they came back," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "When they got the sixth run, man, I was out there deflated ... So I came in the dugout, threw my glove. But after all that, I settled down, and everybody settled down. We knew we had time left and a lot of innings left, lot of outs left. So that's what we did."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.