A game filled with crossroads

Updated: October 23, 2009, 1:07 PM ET
By Buster Olney
The moment Nick Swisher lifted the ball over the infield, Angels reliever Brian Fuentes shot his arm into the air, that arm driven by the exultation of someone who had survived a series of close scrapes. All of Game 5 of the American League Championship Series was filled with crossroads.

Bottom of the first inning: Leadoff hitter Chone Figgins draws a walk for the Angels as A.J. Burnett struggles with his command at the outset of his start -- and in keeping with the way some of his starts have played out this season, Burnett is pounded with stunning velocity.

Bobby Abreu: two pitches, a double.
Torii Hunter: one pitch, a two-run single.
Vladimir Guerrero: one pitch, an RBI double.
Kendry Morales: three pitches, an RBI single.

Before Burnett throws his 13th pitch, before he has registered an out, he trails 4-0 -- it's something that has never happened to him before. Burnett had never allowed four-plus runs in a first inning in his career prior to this game (this was his 246th start, combining regular season and postseason).