The unfancied Anaheim Angels have thrown the chase for the World Series wide open by humiliating the New York Yankees to win the first playoff series in the franchise's 42-year history. The Angels, founded by cowboy actor Gene Autry and now owned by Disney, simply overran the Yankees. New York had won four of the previous five World Series, this time they did not even make it into the American League Championship Series.
The Yankees vaunted pitching was blasted for 31 runs in the four games. In three of them, they scored first, but were outfought and outhustled by a team that had made a speciality of never quitting.
The end came amid the delirium of a sell-out 45,000 crowd at Anaheim's Edison Field on Saturday, as the Angels completed a 3-1 win in the best-of-five AL Divisional Series. The 9-5 victory featured an eight-run fifth innings in which the Yankees' defence simply collapsed. "They brought out the whupping stick and there's nothing you can do," said David Wells, the pitcher on the wrong end of the shellacking. "It's pretty degrading."
Nor are New York the only team going into a premature autumn holiday. No less astonishingly, the Arizona Diamondbacks – conquerors of the Yankees in last year's epic World Series – were ignominiously swept by St Louis.
The Cardinals wrapped up proceedings in the National League Divisional Series at Busch Stadium in St Louis on Saturday. But they did the real damage in the first two games in Phoenix, defeating first Randy Johnson and then Kurt Schilling, the most feared duo of starting pitchers in either league, with 47 wins between them in the regular season.
Riding a tide of sympathy after the deaths earlier this year of pitcher Darren Kyle and the team's legendary announcer Jack Buck, the Cardinals have been playing inspired baseball since August.
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