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Starters await Yanks, Halos in Anaheim

Starters await Yanks, Halos in Anaheim

NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina, who never left Anaheim, and Bartolo Colon, who returned there Saturday, are about to get company.

Their teams will catch up with them Monday evening, for the decisive Game 5 of the AL Division Series.

The two veteran right-handers should be well-rested for the re-creation of their Game 1 duel, at 8 p.m. ET.

As for their teammates ... well, the Yankees and Angels are in the spin cycle.

The teams hurried their way West following New York's 3-2 victory in Game 4 Sunday night, an intense affair that clearly left some of the participants dizzy.

Consider the message Alex Rodriguez delivered to Mussina through the TV cameras soon after the conclusion of Game 4:

"I hope he's getting some rest. If you're watching ... I hope you're sleeping, Mike."

If A-Rod thought Mussina might have been watching him in his sleep, well, that would have made Moose like Yankees fans, who hit their pillows in the wee hours dreaming of glory deeper into October.

This will be a mere stopover for one of the teams. The winner of the first ALDS Game 5 since 2003 will continue on to Chicago, to engage the White Sox in the AL Championship Series.

Despite having to play the decisive game on foreign territory, the Yankees may have maneuvered themselves into the advantage.

Thanks to Shawn Chacon's 6 1/3 innings of tenacity Sunday, New York manager Joe Torre needed only veteran lefty Al Leiter to get to closer Mariano Rivera.

The Yankees' key setup men -- Tanyon Sturtze and Tom Gordon -- remained out of sight and will be fresher Monday behind Mussina.

Mussina was extremely effective in his Game 1 start, when he blanked the Angels on five hits for 5 2/3 innings, but since mid-August has had trouble putting good starts back-to-back.

Colon, on the other hand, has battled a sore back for weeks. His condition was the main reason Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn't consider him for Sunday's start -- even after Saturday's rainout would have permitted Colon to do so on his normal four days' rest.

The decision to have Colon fly home could've backfired when a virus knocked out scheduled Game 4 starter Jarrod Washburn, but John Lackey's crisp effort on three days' rest made the point moot.

Although Scioscia had to use both Scot Shields and Kelvim Escobar on Sunday, he was able to squirrel away a key bullet who could be big in Game 5: hard-throwing rookie Ervin Santana was standing by for long relief in case Lackey had come up empty early.

When that didn't happen and Scioscia could go directly to his late men, Santana was preserved for the tiebreaker.

While both teams' pitching staffs continued to annoy the other's lineup -- the teams combined for eight measly hits in Game 4 -- the Yankees forced a Series tie by proving adept at creating runs, supposedly the Angels' signature.

As if that weren't bad enough for the Angels, Yankees catchers Jorge Posada and John Flaherty have completely throttled the running attack that led the Majors with 161 stolen bases.

After Posada nailed Chone Figgins in the fourth inning Sunday, the Angels have been caught on four of five steal attempts.

"Shawn is so quick to the plate, he gives me a lot of time to throw," Posada said. "If you give me a chance to throw people out, I will throw people out."

The Yankees have been given a new chance to throw 25 people out of the postseason. The chance arrives at the end of another cross-country flight.

"We don't see it as a long trip," Rodriguez said. "We could be going from Hawaii to Alaska, and it wouldn't be a problem.

"We're very excited to be playing this game. I hope our momentum carries over."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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