John Lackey was angry enough at his own manager to say some things that even an amateur lip-reader could tell were not family safe.
Torii Hunter was mad enough to chuck his glove into the Angels dugout and create a scene after a four-run lead had turned into a two-run deficit in one forgettable inning.
"I was pretty upset about them scoring those runs," Hunter said. "Everyone was."
Which is just as it should be, Hunter said. "If I would have seen that," Hunter said, referring to the hang-dog look of disappointment, "that would have shown me a sign of a weakness. Get pumped up. Get [ticked] off. We got outs left, innings left."
Now, the Angels have a whole game left. Their unlikely 7-6 victory over the Yankees in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night earned them a cross-country flight and a date to take another shot at the Yankees in Game 6 on Saturday night.
Once again, the Angels have made it a series. You doubted them after they lost the first two in New York, and you doubted them again after they were pummeled in Game 4 and blew a comfortable lead in Game 5. If you were among the doubters, then you haven't been watching the Angels much this season.
"This," Lackey said, "isn't close to as much adversity as we've seen this year."
Lackey didn't elaborate at all on that sentence. Didn't have to. The Angels, of course, have led the league in adversity, most notably dealing with the death of one of their teammates, Nick Adenhart. The old "Win One For Nick" storyline is tired and inaccurate, since the Angels would no doubt be trying to win just as hard without the tragedy. What is significant is that the Angels have been through some stuff, including injuries to just about everyone who is anyone, that has left them confident that no situation is too bleak.
Certainly not a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series.
Before Game 5, the Angels clubhouse was full of life and emotion, Hunter said. Players were "fired up, ready to go," he said. "We said we don't want them clinching on our field." They had also noticed the Yankees-Phillies World Series previews sprouting up on TV.
Lackey, a big tough Texan out of the Roger Clemens mold, was just the guy they wanted on the mound in such a game. Lackey is the kind of guy who, after his team had been throttled for a couple days by the Texas Rangers in May, would take it upon himself to drill the first hitter of the game the next day.
On Thursday night he came out firing at the Yankees, blanking them through six innings while hanging on to a 4-0 lead the Angels had produced within the first five batters of the game. He gave up a double to Melky Cabrera, then walked Jorge Posada on a questionable call that caused Lackey to react angrily toward plate ump Fieldin Culbreth. Then he walked Derek Jeter on four pitches, before getting Johnny Damon on a flyout for the second out. That was when Mike Scioscia came to the mound to make the percentage move, bringing in lefty Darren Oliver to pitch to switch-hitter Mark Teixeira, and Lackey responded with incredulity.
"This is mine," Lackey clearly told his manager. "You've got to be [kidding] me."
Later in the clubhouse, Lackey explained that "I felt like I got to the point in the game where I should have been able to determine it."
Scoscia said later that he went with his head instead of his heart in making the move, which immediately blew up in his face. Teixeira hit a three-run double on Oliver's first pitch, and the Yankees would go on to score three more to take a 6-4 lead. When the Angels got back into the dugout, that's when Hunter blew up.
"I'm guilty of that," he said. "But that's part of baseball. Everybody was upset. Trust me."
Scioscia said he sensed that the players were ready to strike back, though: "Guys in the dugout were still pumped up. They knew we'd get a guy on. We had the tying run at the plate, and just some real good hitting with guys in scoring position."
Just as the Yankees had smacked the Angels in the top of the inning, the Angels came back with three runs in the bottom, one on Bobby Abreu's groundout, one on Vladimir Guerrero's single against Phil Hughes (who must regret throwing him a fastball after he'd made him look silly on a curveball) and one on Kendry Morales single.
That just left the matter of six little outs, which the Angels recorded easily enough by pitching around everyone who came to the plate in the ninth inning to get to slumping Nick Swisher. Swisher's popout with the bases loaded ended it, keeping the Angels alive to fight again.
Afterward, when Lackey was sensing that the questions were getting a little too presumptuous about those never-say-die Angels, he reminded a reporter that they still haven't done anything.
"Don't get ahead of yourself," Lackey said. "We made it to another game."