ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – The last time the New York Yankees traveled to Anaheim in the playoffs, their pitchers got pounded and they headed home for the winter frustrated after a first-round exit.

The players on each roster who were around for that 2002 American League division series are few and far between, and both clubs are drastically different as they prepare to meet again.

“We’re familiar with them and they’re familiar with us, so the best team over the next five games will win,” said Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who bruised his right knee during Sunday’s regular-season finale at Fenway Park but plans to play in Game 1 on Tuesday night.

“The Angels are playing as well as any team in baseball. I think it’s what people are expecting for it to come down to, the Yankees and Red Sox, but we have our work cut out for both of us.”

The Angels were the first AL team to clinch a playoff berth when they beat Oakland last Tuesday, so they’ve had several days to set their rotation and rest their regulars heading into the opener.

On Monday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia switched his Game 3 starter to Paul Byrd and moved lefty Jarrod Washburn back to Game 4 to give him an extra day to rest his tender elbow.

The Yankees wrapped up another AL East title Saturday by beating the rival Red Sox in Boston. But New York’s loss on Sunday cost it home-field advantage in this series and sent the team trekking across the country.

“After what we’ve needed to do to get here, I don’t think we have a problem dealing with whatever we have to deal with,” manager Joe Torre said. “It really wasn’t a letdown for us. We’re just so into what we’re doing now.”

Los Angeles will go with 21-game winner Bartolo Colon in Game 1 against Mike Mussina, who certainly can recall the way the Yankees were beat up here in 2002. The right-hander allowed four runs in four innings of New York’s 9-6 loss in Game 3. The Angels took the series 3-1 after dropping the opener at Yankee Stadium.

Torre announced his rotation for the series and his lineup for the opener, but hadn’t finalized the playoff roster after the team’s early evening workout. He expects to carry 11 pitchers, to 10 for the Angels.

After Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang will start Game 2, followed by Randy Johnson and Shawn Chacon.

While the Yankees’ pitching is more sketchy now, the free-swinging Angels aren’t nearly as dangerous on offense as they were when they beat San Francisco to win the 2002 World Series. They hit .376 and scored 31 runs in the series against the Yankees that year – with a rally monkey bouncing around on the scoreboard all the while.

Scioscia refuses to believe any of that matters now – although Los Angeles is the only team with a winning record (49-48) against the Yankees since Torre became manager in 1996. The Angels took six of 10 meetings this season.

“I don’t think what happened in 2002 is going to affect what will happen in this series,” Scioscia said. “That’s long gone. We’re playing at a high level right now, and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”

Los Angeles won 14 of its final 16 games to finish 95-67. New York has the same record, but lost the tiebreaker for home field based on head-to-head record.

“We’re a team that’s played extremely well on the road,” Alex Rodriguez said. “In a five-game series, I don’t see it making a lot of difference in terms of home-field advantage.”

New York is barely better than .500 outside the Bronx, going 42-39 on the road this season. The last three postseasons, the Yankees were knocked out in series in which they started with home-field advantage. And the Angels were swept by wild-card Boston, the eventual World Series champs, in the first round last season after opening in Anaheim.

“It’s a new season,” Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. “Right now everybody’s hot.”

In the teams’ first meeting this year on April 26, Rodriguez homered three times off Colon, who was done after 3 2-3 innings.

Colon – still dealing with stiffness in his lower back but not allowing himself to think about it – is eager for another shot at A-Rod. The burly right-hander rebounded for the first 20-win season by an Angels pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1974. He’s vying to become the club’s first Cy Young Award winner since Dean Chance in 1964.

“I have to be careful with Alex, obviously, but I think that whatever happened in the past with Alex is in the past, and I look forward to tomorrow,” Colon said through a translator. “It’s a brand new start. All of them are dangerous. To me, they’re all cleanup hitters. That’s the way I see the Yankee lineup.”

Scioscia thinks this is the best rotation he’s had and the top defensive team during his tenure, so the Angels figure they have the talent to move past the first round this time. The bullpen is deep, and all those things have helped the Angels make up for an inconsistent offense.

The Angels are in the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history after winning their fifth AL West title.

“They’re the most aggressive team in the American League,” Rodriguez said.

AP-ES-10-03-05 2108EDT


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