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Why? Because it can only get better

As long as there's a bat in their hands ...

ANAHEIM -- The Angels have certainly gone out of their way to correct history. They've assumed a lethargic look. They've put themselves at the mercy of umpires. They've braved home-park boos.

All to put themselves in a position to get themselves off the hook and remove the goat horns. To turn their usual pattern on its flip side.

To ensure everlasting peace for Gene Mauch.

Mauch, the legendary manager who passed away two months ago, was legendary principally for some of the biggest come-from-ahead losses in Major League championship history.

Two of those came under the Halo: In 1982, the Angels were the first team to lose a five-game League Championship Series (to the Brewers) after winning the first two; in 1986, the Angels were the first to lose a seven-game LCS (to the Red Sox) after leading three games to one.

So, Little General, this one will be for you. When the Angels get off the floor -- OK, off the morgue slab -- and turn around this AL Championship Series on the White Sox and leave U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday night, the fingers pointing skyward will be pointing at you.

Well, maybe we should make that "if" the Angels get up. It is hard to imagine a more one-sided ALCS through four games, as the White Sox have hit clutch and pitched without a glitch, and the Angels have played a Chumpionship Series.

There has been no Monkey Business at Angel Stadium.

But at the corner pool hall, this is what they would call a hustle. The Angels will now pull out their good cue, sprinkle powder on their hands and start running the table.

Where do we get off even considering that possibility? What makes us think that this could be a setup? Why should the Angels and their fans feel there is any hope?

Consider ...

• Chicago: North Side, South Side. It's still the same toddling town. The Cubs managed to squander the same edge two years ago, and the White Sox have always aspired to be just like them.

The Angels just have to get out of Orange County alive. The White Sox had lost nine consecutive postseason games at home -- through three different ballparks -- since Game 1 of the 1959 World Series until Game 2 of this series. Do they think they're going to start a different streak now?

Don Cooper, their pitching coach, would rather not plan on that.

"We'll try to take care of it tomorrow," Cooper said. "These guys are a little wounded now -- and that's when an animal is most dangerous."

• The Three Amigos: Chone Figgins, Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero can't hold their peace any longer. Combined, they are 4-for-45 in this Series, with two RBIs and nine strikeouts. Trying to stop them when they get going will be like trying to stop a Hummer rolling downhill.

Their hush has the White Sox trembling.

"They have such good hitters," said Ozzie Guillen. "You never know what's going to happen. Hopefully it doesn't happen too soon. They know how to do it."

They also have their own guys excited. Their Sunday pitcher's own word.

"In mind you can only keep Guerrero down so long," said Paul Byrd, the Game 5 starter who will be the first to benefit from The Awakening. "We're excited about the possibility of him and some other players breaking out at any time."


Back from the Brink?
Sixty-two teams in postseason history have found themselves in a 3-1 hole in a best-of-seven series. Only 10 of those teams have battled back to win the series.
Year-series
Team up 3-1
Series winner
2004 ALCSNew YorkBoston
2003 NLCSChicagoFlorida
1996 NLCSSt. LouisAtlanta
1986 ALCSCaliforniaBoston
1985 World SeriesSt. LouisKansas City
1985 ALCSTorontoKansas City
1979 World SeriesBaltimorePittsburgh
1968 World SeriesSt. LouisDetroit
1958 World SeriesMilwaukeeNew York (AL)
1925 World SeriesWashingtonPittsburgh

• White Sox stamina: Their tongues are hanging. Sunday's game will be their fifth in six days. They aren't used to such a grind. Remember the three days off between the Division Series and the ALCS? Vacation is over.

• Twelve Monkeys: Someone in Angel Stadium's video control booth will have a brainstorm and pull out that recent Bruce Willis flick. When one Rally Monkey is losing his mojo ...

• Chicago's bullpen: Once the Angels move beyond Chicago's starters -- up first, Jose Contreras -- they'll have it made. Waved into a game, White Sox relievers will get lost on their way to the mound. They will get directions from the usher in Section 217 but, once there, will remain disoriented and not find the plate.

• Ticking offense: The Angels are simply in the down cycle of a familiar pattern. Their offense has traced the path of the nearby Space Mountain all season.

They've gone through extended valleys, such as a 16-game stretch thru May 14 in which they failed to score more than five runs, or a six-game stretch thru May 24 that produced a total of 15.

But those valleys have led to peaks. Typically, a five-game lull in July in which they tallied a total of eight runs was immediately followed by four games in which they poured across 32.

Now they are at another ebb, in which they have scored 16 runs in the last six postseason games.

"As soft as we've been through the playoffs," said manager Mike Scioscia, "and maybe even a week before that, it can change in a heartbeat and go the other extreme and carry forward for three or four weeks."

• Disneyland: This is still the Happiest Place on Earth. Thinking happy thoughts leads to events that make you happy. If all else fails, Peter Pan stands by with the fairy dust ... "I believe, I believe."

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

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