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10/26/09 2:15 AM EST
Hits quit coming for Angels in ALCS
Figgins, Abreu slumps leave limited opportunities
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- In the sixth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees on Sunday night, Angels leadoff man Chone Figgins tried to spark the offense by laying down a bunt.
The Halos got a huge hit out of Jeff Mathis to win Game 3 and showed some pluck by stringing together a four-run first and a three-run rally in the seventh inning of Game 5. Other than that, however, this was a very quiet series for them at the plate. "We didn't score many runs," said Bobby Abreu, who finished 4-for-25. "It was a tough series." No one had it tougher than Figgins, who was counted on to be the table-setter, just as he was all season. But with few appearances on the basepaths and no stolen bases, Figgins became a non-factor. The Yankees' ability to shut him down was, in retrospect, a major key to the series. "Huge," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of stopping Figgins. "He's a pest, and we know the problems he can cause. That is a big part of the Angels' offense. And I thought our pitchers did a great job against him."
Trouble was, Figgins bunted the ball into the dirt to his immediate right. And when he tried to streak down the line to reach with a leadoff single, the ball bounced directly into his right foot in foul territory. Figgins was out, and that was an all-too-familiar experience for him in a series in which the Angels' offense never really clicked with consistency. "It was just the way things went for me," said Figgins, who was 3-for-23 with three walks in the ALCS. "I just couldn't get anything going." Such was life for the Angels in the decisive Game 6, which they lost, 5-2. You could say they didn't take advantage of their opportunities against left-hander Andy Pettitte, but those opportunities were few and far between. The Angels notched just one run on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings against him. "Pettitte pounded the strike zone today," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "He's usually a guy who throws a lot of balls. He pounded the zone and was ahead of everybody today." The struggle against Pettitte spoke to the larger trend in which an Angels offense that ranked first in the Majors in batting average (.285) and second in runs (883) became stymied by the Yanks' arms. In the six games, the Angels batted .236 (51-for-216) with 19 runs scored.
WRONG TIME TO SLUMP
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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.