Baseball

Yanks have Angels in an 0-2 hole

NEW YORK - Everything is going wrong for the Los Angeles Angels.

When Chone Figgins finally gets a hit, Brian Fuentes can’t put the New York Yankees away. Erick Aybar is still playing defense as if the ball was toxic. Maicer Izturis threw it away at the end as if it was a bar of soap.

Now the Angels are down two games in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series after Saturday night’s excruciating 4-3, 13-inning loss.

Another night, another defeat. Six in a row in the ALCS.

At least now the slumping Angels get to head back West, where maybe a dramatic change in the weather can help them get back on track.

Figgins and Bobby Abreu, the top two hitters in the batting order, were a combined 1-for-16 in the first two games. Figgins was 0-for-18 in this year’s playoffs before his RBI single in the 11th gave Los Angeles a 3-2 lead.

Fuentes, in his first season since replacing Francisco Rodriguez as the Angels’ closer, promptly threw an 0-2 fastball that Alex Rodriguez drove over the right-field wall for a leadoff homer. Then in the 13th, with runners at first and second and one out, Izturis picked up Melky Cabrera’s grounder, tried for a force at second and threw it behind third base.

Los Angeles went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position. The Angels stranded 16 – count ’em! – 16 runners.

Aybar, who along with Figgins failed to catch a simple popup in the opener, had another misstep at shortstop that nearly cost the Angels in the 10th, straddling second base and failing to touch it, costing a double play. The Yankees didn’t come through that time, but eventually they did.

The Angels’ offensive problems run deep. Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero, the Nos. 3 and 4 batters, have no RBI in the ALCS.

But at least for the next three games – if it gets that far – no more chilled nights with ski hats, hoodies and gloves more suited to slopes than shortstop. Instead of bundling up in midtown Manhattan, heading out of the hotel and boarding the bus, put on the flip-flops, get in the convertible and hit the road for the drive to the Big A.

One night after playing uncharacteristically brutal ball, handing the Yankees a few runs in a 4-1 loss, the Angels tightened their defense and got seven sharp innings from Joe Saunders.

Didn’t matter.

Time to head to the airport. Maybe different coast, different strokes.

At least it figures to be dry.

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