Momentum can be a fickle.Â Itâ€™s intangible.Â Itâ€™s mysterious.Â And sometimes, it shows up at the strangest times.Â Youâ€™d never think a manager headed back to his home ball park leading 3-2 would be dodging questions about momentum; and youâ€™d never think a manager going on the road down 3-2 would be so thrilled to talk about it, but in the case of the Yankees vs. Angels series, they are.
In Fridayâ€™s conference call, Angels manager Mike Scioscia called momentum important. â€śThereâ€™s momentum you can carry as you win some good games against good teams,â€ť he said.Â â€śWeâ€™re going to definitely have to carry that into Game 6.â€ť
After the Angels gripping 7-6 victory in Game 5, one would expect the mystical force to be on their side, and Joe Girardi didnâ€™t disagree. Â â€śIâ€™m sure the Angels feel very good about their chances,â€ť he said.Â But, about his own teamâ€™s momentum, he could only remind reporters that the Yankees still lead the series.Â â€śWeâ€™re up three games to two.Â Weâ€™re in our home ballpark where weâ€™ve played very well.â€ť
Girardi isnâ€™t taking the Angels momentum lightly, and considering Sciosciaâ€™s post-season history, itâ€™s for good reason.Â The Angels trailed 3-2 in the 2002 World Series against the San Francisco Giants, but came back to win, despite being down 5-0 in Game 6.Â In Fridayâ€™s conference call, the Angels manager pointed out that in â€™02, the Angels fought back in front of their home crowd instead of on the road, as will be the case this year.Â â€śI donâ€™t know if it really has a huge impact if weâ€™re coming back home for 6 and 7 or doing it on the road,â€ť Scioscia said.Â â€śThe challenge is very real and itâ€™s a challenge we can meet.â€ť
But the â€™02 comeback isnâ€™t the only momentum swing of Sciosciaâ€™s career.Â In this yearâ€™s playoffs, the Angels trailed in the 8th against Boston in Game 3 with Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound.Â The Angels ended up beating the Sox closer to take the series.Â Scioscia talked about the significance of that comeback leading into this series.Â â€śIt certainly gave us, I think, a good feeling and a lot of momentum,â€ť Scioscia said.Â â€śTrying to rebuild that momentum in a new series is something that â€“ itâ€™s been a little bit of a challenge so far, but I think weâ€™re playing better baseball now.â€ť
Better baseball is exactly what the Yankees manager will need from his bullpen, who squandered a two run lead in the 8th inning of Game 5.Â Set-up man Phil Hughes took the loss, but Girardi said his confidence is â€śvery highâ€ť in Hughes and the rest of the bullpen.Â â€śWeâ€™ve had struggles during the year in our bullpen and guys have bounced back,â€ť Girardi said.
He may be confidant, but Girardi didnâ€™t feel much like talking about Hughes pitch to Vladimir Guerrero, which Guerrero hit to score Erick Aybar to tie the game, Joe simply said it was â€ślocation.â€ť
So, it seems intangibles like confidence and momentum will play a major role in Saturday nightâ€™s Game 6.Â One thing neither manager wanted to think about: rain.Â Girardi would only say that nothing would change if Game 6 is a no-go.Â Scioscia was tight lipped as well, only revealing that the Angel staff has talked about many different scenarios.Â The weather likely wonâ€™t affect Game 6 starters, but could allow for a Lackey-Sabathia Game 7.
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Matthew Coller is staff member ofÂ the Business of Sports Network and is a freelance writer. He can be followed on Twitter
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