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Defensive woes contribute to loss

Yankees' defensive woes contribute to loss

ANAHEIM -- Bubba Crosby was sure he had it. So was Gary Sheffield. What they got was a whole lot of each other, and the Angels got the lead that led to the end of New York's season.

With two out, two on, a run in and the Yankees clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the second inning Monday, Adam Kennedy drilled a drive into the right-center gap off Mike Mussina.

Crosby, from his post in center field, ran back and to his left. Right fielder Sheffield ran back and to his right. When they ball came down, they ran into each other. The ball glanced away, bouncing back toward the infield as Sheffield tumbled. By the time Crosby ran it down and got it in, Kennedy was at third with a triple and the momentum in Game 5 of the American League Division Series had shifted.

The Angels added two more runs in the third and hung on for a 5-3 victory.

"[Kennedy] hit it well," Crosby said, "but as soon as he hit it, I knew I had a decent chance at getting there. And I'm sure Sheff felt the same way, because he got there, too. We got there at the same time, and I don't really know what happened after that. The ball came down at impact, we collided, and that was it."

"That's a tough play," said shortstop Derek Jeter. "And it's just one play."

Asked if communication was a problem, Crosby waved the notion off.

"Whether or not either one of us called it doesn't matter," he said. "With the [crowd] noise out there, there's no way we'd have heard each other anyway."

"We both had it," Sheffield said.

That neither got it, Mussina suggested, was nothing to dwell on. It's just part of the unpredictable package that is October baseball.

"How often do you see two outfielders run into each other when they can both catch the ball?" he asked. "That's the kind of thing you see in the postseason, and it's magnified because of when it happens. But you can't look to any one play and say, 'That was the big one.' It's little things that make the difference in the playoffs; a bunch of little things."

Defensively, the Yankees didn't do enough little things in the series. They tied the ALDS record with six errors in the five games, including costly miscues by Alex Rodriguez and Chien-Ming Wang in the Game 2 loss and seventh-inning errors by second baseman Robinson Cano and Sheffield in the Game 3 loss.

"Anaheim kind of does that to you with the style of baseball they play," Rodriguez offered. "Did we play tremendous defense? No. Was it from a lack of effort or concentration? No. I think it was a combination of things, and one of them is the way the Angels like to put pressure on your defense.

"They challenge you with their hustle, with their aggressiveness, so it's a chicken-or-the-egg thing. Did you make mistakes because of that threat, or did they cause you to make mistakes? It's difficult to analyze, but the Angels deserve some credit for keeping the pressure on."

Added Mussina: "They put the ball in play and got some breaks. That's how you win games this late in the year."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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