CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Same plan, different day

Same plan, different day for Yanks, Halos

NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina, who started and won Game 1 of the Division Series, is still in California. He remained in Anaheim to rest up for a possible return engagement in Game 5 on Sunday.

The emphasis, evidently, was on "Game 5," not on "Sunday."

Saturday's rainout would have permitted the Yankees to send out a call to their veteran right-hander and have him hurry home to help them stave off elimination by starting against the Angels in Sunday night's rescheduled Game 4 on regular rest.

More

But Mussina will stay right where he is. There is no Moose Signal equivalent of the Bat Signal.

"I talked to him five minutes ago," New York manager Joe Torre said at Yankee Stadium early Saturday afternoon, shortly after the postponement announcement. "He's doing fine."

Torre added convincingly, "He is going to pitch Game 5 for us."

So it remains up to Shawn Chacon to make that date happen. The right-handed revelation will take the mound as scheduled, bent on using all of his finesse and stuff on unplugging the Angels' electric attack.

Barely two months after pitching to keep the Colorado Rockies within 30 games of .500, Chacon will be pitching to get the Yankees back to .500 in this five-game series. First pitch is at 8:15 p.m. ET; the FOX broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. ET.

If the Yankees fall short, the East cleansing of the American League Championship Series will be complete, the Boston Red Sox having already bowed out. Only two of the 10 previous ALCS in the three-division era have not included an AL East representative -- 2002, when the Angels eliminated the Yankees and met the Twins, and in 1995, when the Mariners eliminated the Yankees and played the Indians.

Chacon has often ascribed his success in pinstripes to finding himself in a situation where losing is not considered an option. That will never be truer than Sunday.

"Sitting here and getting that chance ... I never thought that would happen for me," he admitted.

His challenge will be to muffle an Angels attack that came in all sizes Friday night. The Angels' 19 hits, a postseason record for a franchise that now has played 35 postseason games, included three doubles, two triples and two home runs.

His mound opponent will be Jarrod Washburn, a veteran left-hander who will be seeking to complete a swift trip from the dismal to the sublime of postseason play.

One year ago, in relief, he surrendered the ultimate walk-off homer to David Ortiz -- the one that ended Boston's Division Series sweep of the Angels.

Sunday, Washburn has the opportunity to pitch the Angels into the AL Championship Series against the Chicago White Sox.

"Last year definitely didn't end the way I would have wanted it to," Washburn said. "I am eager to get out there and erase those memories."

To forge better memories, Washburn has to keep the Angels' foot on the throat of a New York team that can get off the deck and quickly deck the opposition.

A two-games-to-one lead means only that you are a two-game losing streak from going home to put up Halloween decorations.

Like Torre, Angels manager Mike Scioscia ignored the rain-prompted opportunity to adjust his rotation. Game 1 starter Bartolo Colon remains the Angels' starter for a potential Game 5; Colon, in fact, returned home Saturday afternoon, to rest up for that possibility.

"Our confidence in Jarrod is high," Scioscia said. "We'll have enough [pitching] depth to get to a Game 5, but we're confident with Jarrod."

The biggest impact of Saturday's rainout will be felt in the teams' bullpens, both extended in the Angels' 11-7 Game 3 victory Friday night.

With starters Randy Johnson and Paul Byrd both chased in the fourth inning, Torre and Scioscia had to deplete their 'pens in searching for the upper hand in the see-saw affair.

Scioscia needed four relievers for 5 1/3 innings, while Torre used five to get through the final six.

Kelvim Escobar, the fresh key guy in the Angels' relief chain, definitely got a reprieve with the postponement. He would have been unavailable Saturday.

"We'll cut right to the chase -- it's big for us," Scioscia said of the postponement. "We have to be able to shorten a game against the Yankees, and the only way to do that is to have Scot Shields, [Brendan] Donnelly, Escobar and [Frankie] Rodriguez where they need to be. [Saturday], we probably would not have had much of that."

While Torre's bullpen got the same blow, the bye could also endow it with a new matchup left-hander.

Johnson, who understandably would be anxious to return to the mound as soon as possible and bury Friday's debacle, has taken some past turns as a postseason relief warrior.

It is a possibility again -- although Torre must bear in mind that, if things work out for his club, two seven-game series still await.

"Whenever he feels physically able to do it, he'll jump in there. He's done it before," Torre said. "We wouldn't jeopardize doing something that might hurt him.

"After that [consideration], we certainly would pull out all the stops to win the game [Sunday]."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less
{}
{}