As we approach the end of this debauched, orgiastic decade of the aughts — the historians, we suspect, will refer to it as The Age of Unchecked Hedonism, the same way the seventies were known as The Decade of Well-Shaved Men, and the nineties were known as The Age of Wearing Form-Fitting Clothes to Rock Shows Featuring Performers Who Cared More About Personal Style Than Their Three Chords of Suburban Disaffection — we look back at the Yankees’ postseason performance. (Segue!) The Yankees won one World Series this decade — against the Mets, if that tells you how long that’s been — and since then have lost to the Diamondbacks, the Marlins, the Red Sox, the Tigers, the Indians and, yes, these Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Twice.
One could make an argument that the way the Angels have struggled historically with the Red Sox (until this year) was the same way the Yankees have struggled with the Angels; they have a Rally Monkey on their back. In order to appropriately raise your dander for this series — which, sheesh, is still two full days away — we thought we’d take a look at the last two series the Yankees lost to the Angels, in 2002 and 2005.
2002 American League Divisional Series
Angels 3, Yankees 1
The Yankees’ lone victory was in the opener, thanks to a dramatic Bernie Williams home run in the bottom of the eighth. (The Yankees had four homers that game, from Williams, Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi and … Rondell White.)
After Game 1, everything went wrong. Andy Pettitte had one of his worst ever postseason starts in Game 2 (and Joe Torre left Orlando Hernandez in to cough up an eighth-inning lead), the Yankees blew a 6–1 lead in Game 3 (Mike Mussina was the knocked-around starter this time), and the Halos bashed David Wells for eight runs in the fifth inning of Game 4 to clinch their first postseason series ever. They went on to win the World Series after ending the Yankees’ AL pennant-winning streak at four. After the loss — seriously, the Angels just blitzed the Yanks, and the dynasty was over before anyone realized it — George Steinbrenner said, “We’ll be back, mark that down, we’ll be back.”
2005 American League Divisional Series
Angels 3, Yankees 2
After splitting the first two games in Anaheim, Randy Johnson, wowing Yankees fans as always, gave up five runs in the first three innings of Game 3. The Yankees clawed back to take a 6–5 lead, but relievers Aaron Small and Tom Gordon gave the lead right back, letting in a total of six runs. The Yankees won a Game 4 thriller by scoring two runs in the seventh inning — on singles by Jeter and good ole Ruben Sierra — and getting two shutout innings by Mariano Rivera for the save. Those were the days. Wait, those are the days.
It all came down to Game 5 in Anaheim, when the Yankees had the advantage of Bartolo Colon leaving in the second inning with a hand injury … but the disadvantage of a not-sharp-at-all Mike Mussina. He gave up five runs in three innings, and the Yankees never caught up. The Angels had their second series win over the Yankees in four years.
Four years later, the Yankees have a chance at “revenge,” if you can count “revenge” as a factor in a series that will only feature a total of 11 players from those 2005 rosters.