In this latest edition of Rowand's Journal, done exclusively for MLB.com, he talks about Garland's effort, the two best teams in the American League facing off and coming back home to play in the American League Championship Series.
Jon Garland threw the [heck] out of the ball tonight. He hit his spots. His sinker worked. He was throwing strikes. Normally a guy who has taken that much time off is not that sharp hitting spots and he was tonight. So hats off to him.
We came out swinging the bats well and you have a guy like Garland who does what he did tonight, it's tough for the fans to get into the game. This place can get loud. I grew up here and I've been here and seen it when the crowd is going crazy.
But our goal was to jump on them early, that's the key. If we can get on them early, then game on. You want to try to get to their starters because they have the best bullpen in the American League, and in my opinion, in all of baseball. Obviously, I don't play in the National League, but it's true in the American League and from the teams I've seen in Interleague Play, at least.
So, we have to go out and jump on their starters and get a lead. We don't want to pull the same stuff the other night at home and try to score off their relievers.
All around, these are the two best teams in the American League. Boston and New York have those lineups that are unreal. But I would say the pitching is better than the two there. We don't have the offense they have, but as far as bullpen and defense and being a well-rounded team, I would go with these two. I have to give the edge to us and the Angels because we are still here.
Now, we just have to concentrate on [Saturday]. We have to go out there and do what we can to win a game. Scratch, claw and push across some runs. We definitely have a good shot with Freddy [Garcia] on the mound. Actually, we have a good shot with any of our starters out there.
You knew the boos for A.J. [Pierzynski] were coming from this crowd tonight. We all got a kick out of it. He took his hat off in the bullpen. If he didn't do anything, we would have been very down on him.
I was a little nervous in my first at-bat. It didn't happen to me during any playoff games at home or in Boston. But being back in California, I had a little case of butterflies on the first at-bat. I felt like it was my first at-bat here in 2001 all over again. I calmed down pretty quickly.
There were a couple of balls I hit hard tonight, and I felt good at the plate. Some times when you feel the best but you don't get a hit. I'll come back ready to go [Saturday].