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Friday, June 3, 2011
Angels Moment No. 4: Owning the Yankees

By Mark Saxon

OK, perhaps that's a bit too strong. But during the apex of the New York Yankees' most recent dynasty, no team gave them more trouble than the Angels.

From 2000 through 2007, Mike Scioscia was the only manager to have a winning record against Joe Torre's Yankees. Scioscia was the only manager ever to beat Torre twice in the postseason, in 2002 and 2005.

The hex, as some called it in New York, began to wear off in 2009, when the Angels lost in six games to the Yankees in the ALCS. The Angels lost all three games they played at Yankee Stadium. In the past two seasons, the teams have split the season series, 5-5 and 4-4.

What was it about the Angels that made them so tough for the powerful Yankees? I caught up with Torre a couple of years ago when he was managing the Dodgers to get a sense of that. He attributed it two two primary things -- Scioscia's managing ability and the Angels' capacity to pitch and manufacture runs in key spots.

"It always seemed like, as the game went along, you'd get this feeling that something bad was going to happen," Torre said.

It sometimes happened on the bases. The Yankees weren't used to aggressive base running playing in the powerful, but plodding AL East for all those years. When the USA lost to a much smaller Japan team in the World Baseball Classic a few years ago, Derek Jeter compared it to playing the Angels.

The Angels can only hope their sway over New York isn't completely over because this weekend's three-game series could be an important test of the psyche as the season reaches its middle third. The Angels enter the series sitting at .500. The Yankees are in first place and eight games over .500, but they haven't won a season series at Angel Stadium since 2004.

Editor's note: This story is part of an occasional series of Angels Moments which, when it's complete, will -- we hope -- add up to 50. The Angels are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season. These are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but simply an assembly of scenes and anecdotes that are part of the team's colorful past.