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Fenway, not the highway10/07/2004 4:24 AM ET
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Down 0-2 in the American League Division Series against Boston, the Angels have traveled into uncharted territory but the team remains certain in its flight plans. Next stop, Boston for two games before a coast-to-coast trip back home for Game 5 in Anaheim. That's the strategy and they are sticking to it. "We got a bunch of fighters and we are not going to give up," first baseman Darin Erstad said after Wednesday's 8-3 loss. "We are going to keep battling. It is what it is, but I know the guys in this room will not go down without a fight." Only the 2001 Yankees have come back to win a five-game ALDS after losing the first two games at home and only eight teams have ever come back to win a five-game postseason series after going down by 2-0. The Angels are determined to be the ninth. The Red Sox are poised to keep the list at eight. "We are going to out there and keep playing hard. It does not help to put extra pressure on ourselves," Jose Molina said. "We are going to go out there and do our best. We have done it many times." Said Chone Figgins, "We are going to go all out. They won the first two games and there is nothing you can do about it. We have to go out and win in Boston." Desperation was not something any Angels player wanted to hear following Wednesday's loss. The word was greeted with a scowl then with words that spoke of a brighter tomorrow -- or, in this case, a brighter Friday at Fenway Park in Game 3. "Nobody is uptight and nobody is tense, we are just playing our game," Erstad said. "Unfortunately, we are not playing real well right now. It's all or nothing now. We have our backs way against the wall and we are going to come out fighting and see what happens." The postgame Angels were solemn yet cordial and classy as usual, but the clichés ran rampant through the home clubhouse. But in the end, the message was clear -- no Angels player wants the offseason to begin Saturday following a loss and three-game sweep. That's simply not part of the plan. It never has been. "We will go out and play baseball the way we wanted to play the first two games," reliever Brendan Donnelly said. "We'll do all the little things right and play hard for nine innings. If we do that, we'll be confident we can go out on top. We have to now." Like his teammates, a straight-faced Molina brushed off any notion the Angels could not come back and the Red Sox were unbeatable. Instead, he offered his version of the club "taking it one game at a time." The catcher also refused to respond to questions about the night's umpiring. "We are going to out there and keep playing hard. It does not help to put extra pressure on ourselves," he said. "We are going to go out there and do our best. We have done it many times." Pedro Martinez had more than just a little to do with the Angels' predicament. Martinez allowed six hits and was charged with all three runs in seven innings Wednesday. He struck out six batters and walked two. Not bad for a pitcher who was coming off a four-game losing streak, tying the longest of his career. The first time he lost four in row came the first four starts of his career in 1992 and 1993. "I was watching the video and he was throwing 88 to 91 mph and I didn't see much of that tonight," Erstad said. "He's a big-game pitcher and he stepped up with his 'A' game." Equal blame for the 0-2 deficit could be handed to Boston's Game 1 starter, Curt Schilling, and the Angels going 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position. At least eight runs by the Red Sox in each of the first two games was also not part of the Angels' plan for success. "We face everybody the same way and it doesn't matter who you are facing," Erstad said. "You have to have the mentality you are going to win every game and we have that. We'll go out on Friday and whoever we are facing, we'll do our best."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.