Flaherty Q&A: Back to Anaheim?
Catcher discusses Unit, Game 3 loss, winning Game 4
NEW YORK -- The Yankees dropped Game 3 of the American League Division Series, 11-7, to the Angels on Friday night at Yankee Stadium, giving Los Angeles a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Randy Johnson allowed five runs in three-plus innings, though the Yankees fought back to take a lead in the fifth. But New York's bullpen couldn't hold the lead, as the Angels plated six runs from the sixth through the eighth, moving within one game of an ALCS matchup with the Chicago White Sox.
Yankees catcher John Flaherty, who walked in his first at-bat before being replaced by Jorge Posada in the fourth inning, has been providing game-by-game analysis for MLB.com throughout the postseason.
Flaherty spoke with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand following the loss, discussing the Big Unit, the disappointment of the Game 3 loss and what the Yankees must do to force the series back to Anaheim.
MLB.com: What did you see with Randy Johnson early on?
Flaherty: It didn't look like he had his real good stuff. His location was off. He got two quick outs, but [the Angels] hit the ball pretty well. We tried to go up and in on Vladdy [Vlad Guerrero], but he threw it down the middle and he got a base hit. It was just one of those night where he didn't have a whole lot.
MLB.com: Randy had held left-handed hitters to a .074 average since late-July. Did that make Garret Anderson's homer even more impressive?
Flaherty: It was down below the zone and in the middle. Our game plan with him was to throw him some sliders, move him off the plate inside and then go back with a slider away. Instead of getting it in off the plate, he left it middle-down. Garret's been known to golf that ball out, and he did it.
MLB.com: Given how dominant Randy has been since August, how surprising was this outing?
Flaherty: It was shocking. We've seen him come up big for us down the stretch, so we expect the same thing from him every time he goes out there. Tonight, it didn't happen. I hope we can give him the ball one more time, because I still feel good about him.
MLB.com: When you guys come back from 5-0 and take a 6-5 lead, what's the feeling in the dugout?
Flaherty: We're thinking, 'This is the way we play.' We felt good getting back in the game and taking the lead, but they made our middle relievers work hard. You have to give them credit, because they took good at-bats tonight against our whole staff. We're looking forward to tomorrow, not look any further than that. Hopefully, we'll be on a plane to California.
MLB.com: Aaron Small did such a great job shutting down the Angels' rally in the fifth, but he took the loss after allowing two runs in the sixth. After the year he's had, it is expected that he would take a loss eventually?
Flaherty: I thought Aaron was the momentum-changer in the game for us, when he got the strikeout and double-play ball with first-and-third and nobody out. We're thinking, 'This guy is unbelievable. Here we go again, we're going to ride this guy.' He did a good job and got us into the dugout quickly in the fifth, but unfortunately, they got to him and the rest of our 'pen after that.
MLB.com: Scot Shields had another good outing for the Angels bullpen, but what does Kelvim Escobar add to that bullpen?
Flaherty: This guy was hurt all year, but he's come back and is throwing the ball well. He's a nice bridge for them. We have to hopefully get in their bullpen earlier [Saturday] and see if we can do some damage.
MLB.com: This is the first time in more than a month that you lost two in a row. Does that make it a little easier coming back tomorrow, knowing that you've been able to bounce back with regularity?
Flaherty: Our mentality for the last two months has been to try to find a way to win a game every day. It's no different [Saturday]. This is familiar territory for us, so we'll give a good effort tomorrow, try to take care of the game and get on a plane.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.