THE LOS ANGELES Angels had spent much of the last three days on someone else’s wings. In a span of 52 hours, they flew over 5,000 miles from New York to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to Chicago. And there was little time for rest. As the Angels arrived at their Chicago hotel at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, they had to play Game 1 of the ALCS in less than 14 hours.
And their starting pitcher, Paul Byrd, was their only “fresh” starting pitcher — if you care to use that word. Byrd was starting on just three days rest (usually you get four) since:
*John Lackey pitched Sunday
*Ervin Santana pitched Monday
*Jarrod Washburn was recovering from strep throat
*Ervin Santana pitched 5 innings in the ALCS Game 5 Monday night
*Bartolo Colon was injured (and will be for the ALCS. Colon is not even on the ALCS roster).
And the White Sox were well-rested, its entire team having as much rest as Paul Byrd (three days) when they finished off the Red Sox sweep on Friday.
The Angels won 3-2 Tuesday night thanks to Byrd’s (1-0) gutsy six-inning, two-run performance.
The Halos attacked early with a Garret Anderson solo homerun off White Sox starting pitcher Jose Contreras (0-1) in the second and RBI from Vladmir Guerrero and Orlando Cabrera in the 3rd inning, sustaining a 3-0 lead.
Chicago batters Joe Crede hit a solo HR in the bottom of the third, while A.J. Pierzynski added an RBI base-knock in the 4th to pull to 3-2, but Byrd and his bullpen shut them down after that.
They may have been exhausted from their 5,000 mile trek, but prior to the game Angels manager Mike Scioscia felt the flights didn’t turn them into insomniacs:
“We’re going on adrenaline, just like we did in (Monday’s) game. We probably got to our hotel somewhere around 6:30 this morning and got about as much playoff sleep as you get anyway. So we’re ready to go”
The Angels’ heavenly performance should be lauded, but there’s not much time for high-fives. Game 2 is Wednesday, and their scratchy-throat lefty Washburn will face off against the White Sox interpretation of a left-hander, 16-game winner Mark Buehrle at 8:00 p.m. on FOX.
Barring another emergency performance like Santana’s Monday night, the Angels should be OK with their starters. With Thursday’s off-day, Lackey will be ready to go in Friday’s Game 3, while Santana will be fully rested to pitch in Game 4 Saturday.
MEANWHILE, THE CARDINALS shed their practice jerseys and lace up for their NLCS opener Wednesday night as well. St. Louis starts off the series with their biggest gun, Chris Carpenter (21-5, regular season, 1-0 postseason) while the Astros offer up their proven postseason lefty Andy Pettitte (17-9 regular season, 1-0 postseason).
While the Cardinals are a hotter favorite to move to the World Series, ESPN experts are split down the middle on this series:
Jerry Crasnick 4-2
Tim Kurkjian 4-3
Steve Phillips 4-3
Gary Gillette 4-2
Eric Neel 4-3
Peter Gammons 4-3
Jayson Stark 4-3
Buster Olney 4-2
Rob Neyer 4-2
Jim Caple 4-3
At least everyone sees it as a close series going at least six games.
BUT I DON’T HAVE PICTURE-IN-PICTURE!!!
Depending on where you live, one game or the other will be shown on FOX. The other game will be seen live on the cable channel FX.
Don’t worry. For a second I was worried I wouldn’t have a viewer’s choice either.