Rainout Adds More Splash to ALCS

Rainout Adds More Splash to ALCS

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Sunday, October 25th 2009, 4:00 AM

The starting pitchers don't change for the Yankees and Angels because it rained Saturday, the stakes don't change. The Yankees try to win their 40th pennant Sunday night instead of Saturday night, bring the World Series back to New York for the first time in six years. The Angels try to win themselves another day of a baseball season.

Andy Pettitte still gets the ball from Joe Girardi, and if Pettitte does the kind of job he has done for a very long time in New York, going all the way back to October of 1996, then the Yankees don't have to worry about another one-game season against the Angels. Game 7 goes right off the boards.

Pettitte has done this sort of work before, won 15 postseason games before this, gets a record for himself if he gets to 16 Sunday, becomes the guy who's won more clinching games than any pitcher in postseason history.

"You know what can be the next step if we can get one more win," he said after the game was called.

A day and night of rain make the plot thicken a bit, but only if the Yankees don't close the deal Sunday. It just makes the whole thing better.

If the Angels can get to Monday night, they have John Lackey available to pitch on three days' rest, the same Lackey who started and won Game 7 as a rookie in the 2002 World Series, did that on three days' rest. And Mike Scioscia has Jered Weaver, so dazzling out of the bullpen in the eighth inning of Game 5, out of the bullpen if Scioscia needs him in relief of Joe Saunders Sunday.

So what has been such a terrific series so far, with two one-run games and one blowout, with CC Sabathia and A-Rod and weird-science moves by both managers and botched calls by the umpires, with two extra-inning games in the books already, got extended Saturday, not because the Angels won Game 6 and squared things, but because of bad rain.

The Angels still need a game to keep playing. The Yankees still need to stay away from Game 7.

Before the rainout Saturday, they asked Scioscia about momentum, coming off the kind of win his team had in Game 5, having the 4-0 lead to the seventh, watching the Yankees go for six runs then, coming right back with three, getting out of bases loaded in the top of the ninth.

"I think there's some momentum you can carry after a big win," Scioscia said, but then he reminded everybody that his team got smacked in Game 4 and, "you saw Game 5, we went out and recreated momentum very quickly."

But it is Pettitte the Angels are up against this time, not A.J. Burnett. Pettitte will try to pitch the Yankees into the World Series Sunday, the way he was supposed to do Saturday. It was in October of 1996 that he did not just pitch one of the great games in Yankee history, he pitched one of the great games in World Series history, against the Braves at old Fulton County Stadium, Pettitte beating John Smoltz - with whom he is tied, both of them with 15 postseason wins - and the Braves, 1-0. Paul O'Neill, on a bum leg, ran down the last out that night, off the bat of Luis Polonia, the last ball anybody ever hit at Fulton County Stadium, after Jose Cardenal, coaching for Joe Torre then, moved O'Neill over more toward right before John Wetteland threw his last pitch of Game 5.

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