First, I have to say that so far this has been an extremely exciting series. Maybe it hasn't always been artistically perfect but it's been exciting. Also, as baseball fan and someone who lived in New York for some time, I tend to root for the Yankees, but I find it very difficult not to pull for this Angel team. They are fun to watch.
I have to say that the Yankees cannot call what is happening with their bullpen unexpected. Their starters have not pitched deep into games very often especially Pettite (6.1 innings per start), Mussina (6.5), and Clemens (6.2). Even with starters Orlando Hernandez and Jeff Weaver in the bullpen, when your starters go only 5-2/3, 3, and 4 innings in the three games so far your bullpen is going to get worn. Worse yet the Yankees only have one left hander in the pen, Stanton, and have only really used three or four relievers all year: Stanton, Karsay, Mendoza, and Rivera when healthy. Their bullpen is like a throwback to the Goose Gossage Yankee days, with Gossage closing, Ron Davis setting him up, and a caste of characters like the aging Jim Kitty Kaat and Don Hood filling in. The Yankees had time in July after Rivera went on the DL to pick up another veteran reliever arm. There were rumors that the would get lefty Dan Plesac from the Phillies. They did nothing. They had time to work in the Randy Choates and Mike Thurmans, especially after it was clear that Boston would not catch them. They chose not to do so.
Mike Stanton also did endure a good deal of bad luck: a nice pitch punched right over Soriano's extended reach, a slicing fly off the glove of Mondesi, a hard liner past first base that Giambi would have gotten had been guarding the line. It was apparent before the Erstad double in the eighth that he had nothing left. The only problem was that he was the only lefty in the pen who could face Erstad. Karsay was used in all three games and gave up the back-kreaking home run to Salmon. Perhaps if Torre hadn't overworked these guys continually throughout the season, they would have performed a little better tomight. It's surprising for a manger who built his reputation on using all 25 spots on the roster to their fullest.
Home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez was calling an extremely low strike zone. There was one 3-2 call where Jeter looked the ball into the catcher's glove and was sure that he had a walk until he was punched out. His early low strike calls helped set up Francisco Rodriguez's low stuff be so effective. Not to take anything away from kid, he was tremedous. But as the game wore on more players were swinging atthat low pitch assuming if they didn't it would be called a strike anyway. This seemed to favor the Angels' pitchers.
Francisco Rodriguez was great in picking up his second win of the series and of his major-league career. I still cannot get over the fact that he was allowed onto their playoff roster even though he didn't pitch until September 18.
Joe Morgan alluded to this and maybe I'm just being swayed by Joe's persuasiveness, but this game felt like a passing of the guard. The Yankees lost on little nubbers and balls falling in lucky spots. The Angels won by chipping away and by shutting out the Yanks with their bullpen, who bailing out an extremely erratic starter (Ortiz's line 2-2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 K).
Game 4 is going to be something: 18-game winner Washburn against 19-game winner Wells. Oh, and I like the rally monkey but it can get old, but it is nice to see those supposedly apathetic California crowds get into the game. Now if they had a monkey-cam film the game, that would be exciting.