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Angelic upstarts finish Yanks

Anaheim ousts defending AL champ New York with 9-5 victory to win playoff series for first time.

©Associated Press
October 6, 2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As soon as David Eckstein settled under the popup, the red-clad crowd of 45,067 at Edison Field began celebrating.

And when the Anaheim shortstop caught it for the final out, a most stunning AL division series was over.

While the Yankees sat and stared blankly from the first-base dugout, the Angels and their fans cheered as never before, having beaten big, bad New York 9-5 to win the best-of-five series 3-1.

"It's been a long time coming for myself and this organization, a lot of blood, sweat and tears," Tim Salmon said after the Angels won a postseason series for the first time. "To finally come through and do it, it's just special."

Shawn Wooten homered and hit a run-scoring single during an eight-run fifth as the wild-card Angels put an emphatic end to 42 years of frustration.

"I didn't have my head in the sand; a lot of people didn't give us much of a chance," manager Mike Scioscia said.

"The perspective is, it's one rung up the ladder. It has to give us confidence to beat the incredible club we just played against."

The no-name Angels hit .376, highest in a postseason series, against a vaunted pitching staff Yankees manager Joe Torre called the best in his seven-year tenure.

New York's 8.21 ERA was its worst in 57 postseason series.

"It really got ugly for us," Torre said. "I have no reasoning for it or excuse for it. It's a bad taste right now. They played a whole lot better than we did. They did what they needed to do and we weren't there."

Four-time defending AL champion New York was the first team eliminated from the playoffs this October.

The Angels, meanwhile, play at Oakland or Minnesota in Game 1 of the league championship series on Tuesday night.

Born as an expansion franchise in 1961 as the "other" team in the Los Angeles area, the Angels made the playoffs three times before this season.

They squandered a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALCS against Milwaukee in 1982 and were one strike from the World Series in 1986 before losing the last three to Boston.

That's six chances to win a series, and six losses.

It was a different story Saturday.

"Nobody gave us a chance against the Yankees. Maybe we caught them on a bad week, I don't know. You can't say enough about how our club's playing," said Salmon, the longest-tenured Angels player.

The Angels, who won a club-record 99 games during the season, took advantage of another collapse by Yankees pitching. This time, David Wells was roughed up.

Benji Gil, like Wooten a seldom-used right-handed batter inserted by Scioscia against Wells, had two of his team's postseason record-tying 10 hits in the fifth, which ended with the Angels on top 9-2.

The Angels have played in 20 postseason games in their history. The Yankees have won 26 World Series, including four of the past six.

But it's the Angels, who battered New York pitching for 56 hits and 31 runs in this four-game series, who are moving on.

And for the first time since 1997, the Yankees aren't.

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