ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Angels ended 42 years of frustration in stunning fashion -- blowing out the big, bad New York Yankees.
Shawn Wooten homered and hit an RBI single during an eight-run fifth inning and the wild-card Angels beat the Yankees 9-5 Saturday to win the AL division series 3-1.
''I didn't have my head in the sand, a lot of people didn't give us much of a chance,'' manager Mike Scioscia said after the Angels won a postseason series for the first time.
''The perspective is, it's one rung up the ladder. It has to give us confidence to beat the incredible club we just played against,'' he said.
Even more amazing: The Angels hit .376 -- the highest ever in a postseason series -- against the vaunted New York staff. And the Yankees' 8.21 ERA was their worst in 57 postseason series.
''It really got ugly for us,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ''I have no reasoning for it or excuse for it. It's a bad taste right now. They played a whole lot better than we did. They did what they needed to do and we weren't there.''
Torre and his team could only stare from the dugout as the Angels celebrated on the field. The four-time defending AL champions were the first team eliminated this October.
The Angels will play at either Oakland or Minnesota in Game 1 of the AL championship series on Tuesday night.
Born as an expansion franchise in 1961 as the ''other'' team in L.A., the Angels made the playoffs only three times before this year.
They blew a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALCS against Milwaukee in 1982 and were one strike away from the World Series in 1986 before losing the last three games to Boston.
That's six chances to win a series, and six losses.
It was a different story Saturday before a roaring crowd of 45,067.
''It's been a long time coming for myself and this organization, a lot of blood, sweat and tears,'' said Tim Salmon, the longest-tenured Angels player. ''To finally come through and do it, it's just special.
''Nobody gave us a chance against the Yankees. Maybe we caught them on a bad week, I don't know. You can't say enough about how our club's playing.''
The Angels, who won a club-record 99 games during the season, took advantage of another collapse by Yankees pitching -- this time, David Wells got roughed up.
Torre gave the Angels credit, but wouldn't say they were a better team than the Yankees.
''I'm too proud to say that,'' he said. ''We were beaten by a team that played a whole lot better than we did this week.''
Benji Gil, like Wooten a seldom-used right-handed batter inserted by Scioscia against Wells, also had two of his team's postseason record-tying 10 hits in the fifth that made it 9-2.
The Angels have played in 20 postseason games in their history while the Yankees have won 26 World Series, including four of the last six.
But it's the Angels, who battered New York pitching for 56 hits and 31 runs in this four-game series, who are moving on. And for the first time since 1997, the Yankees aren't.
After Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina struggled in the first three games, Wells wasn't any better. The big four finished with a whopping 10.38 ERA in this series.
Following the Yankees' Game 7 World Series loss to Arizona last year, owner George Steinbrenner stood in the locker room and vowed his team would make it back.
The Yankees signed the biggest free agent on the market, Jason Giambi, and the Boss personally lured Wells to win games just like this.
''There's no doubt it's disappointing,'' Giambi said. ''We worked hard, got 103 wins, but they just beat us. No excuses. I thought we played great, to be honest with you. They just played better.''
Long owned by singing cowboy Gene Autry until his death in 1998, the Angels are now controlled by The Walt Disney Co., which is trying to sell them.
Wells, who brought an 8-1 lifetime record in postseason play into the game, limited the Angels to three hits and one run in the first four innings.
Then came the disastrous fifth when the Angels, who hit a major league-leading .282 during the season, erupted.
Wooten, who had only three home runs during the regular season, hit a 2-0 pitch over the left-field fence for the Angels' ninth homer of the series to make it 2-all.
Gil singled one out later -- the first of five straight singles. With two outs, Scott Spiezio's RBI single made it 6-2 and chased Wells, who was charged with eight runs in 4 2-3 innings.
Ramiro Mendoza allowed a single by Wooten and a two-run double by Bengie Molina, and Orlando Hernandez gave up a single by Gil before retiring David Eckstein -- the 13th batter of the inning -- on a fly ball.
Pitching on three days' rest, winner Jarrod Washburn was shaky from the start, allowing five of the first eight batters to reach base and using 94 pitches in the first five innings.
But he was helped by two double play balls and the Yankees managed only two runs off him. Raul Mondesi and Juan Rivera hit long flies to left that had home-run distance, but both hooked foul.
Robin Ventura's RBI double in the second gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
Eckstein hit what appeared to be a double-play grounder to second baseman Alfonso Soriano with runners at the corners and one out in the third, but the ball went through Soriano's legs, allowing the tying run to score.
The Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Rivera reached base on third baseman Troy Glaus' throwing error, took third on Soriano's double and scored on Derek Jeter's sacrifice fly.
New York's lead lasted only a few minutes. And when the Yankees came to bat in the sixth, they faced a seven-run deficit.
Jorge Posada homered of Brendan Donnelly in the sixth and Jeter scored on a wild pitch by Francisco Rodriguez in the seventh.
But once Rodriguez retired Nick Johnson on a grounder to the box with the bases loaded to end the seventh, the Yankees were done.
Troy Percival pitched the ninth, giving up Raul Mondesi's RBI single with two outs.
Notes: Wells was making his first postseason start since Game 1 of the 1998 World Series, when he was the winning pitcher in the Yankees' 9-6 victory over San Diego that triggered a four-game sweep. ... Anaheim's 10 hits in the fifth tied the postseason record set by the Philadelphia Athletics in the fourth game of the 1929 World Series. ... Gary DiSarcina, the Angels' starting shortstop throughout the 1990s, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Jeter singled in the first to become the first player in postseason history to reach the 100-hit plateau, and added another hit. ... The Yankees grounded into six double plays against Washburn -- four in Game 1 and another two Saturday. Only eight batters grounded into double plays against Washburn during the season.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.