Entering tonight's Game 6, it was not hard to find the main source of the Anaheim Angels' problems: an undermanned pitching staff that has left them piecing together nine innings in increasingly creative ways.
While the San Francisco Giants chose to carry an 11-man pitching staff, the Angels are carrying only 10, a decision that may haunt them.
That shorthandedness has forced them to leave Game 7 in the hands of rookie John Lackey on three days' rest, after uncertainty continued to surround Ramon Ortiz because of tendinitis in his wrist. Lackey is expected to be matched against Livan Hernandez, the most valuable player in the 1997 World Series.
"With our staff, there have been a couple keys that have not fallen into place for us," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Particularly, it's easy to see where our starting pitching has been. . . . They haven't pitched deep enough into a game. If they don't do that, your bullpen is taxed a little bit more."
The New York Yankees offered the successful model of postseason roster composition, always carrying only 10 pitchers during their run of five World Series appearances (and four titles) in six years.
However, the Yankees always had exceptional starting pitching and a core of three or four trusted relievers.
While the Angels could not have foreseen Kevin Appier's ineffectiveness or Jarrod Washburn's struggles or Ortiz's tendinitis, they also might have anticipated some problems.
Had the Angels carried an extra pitcher, it might have been right-hander Aaron Sele, who was just beginning to return from an arm injury and who could have been used in long relief to stanch the bleeding in Game 5.
Instead of an 11th pitcher, the Angels carried pinch-run specialist Chone Figgins, who appeared in only one of the first five games.
Agent Scott Boras, whose client list includes Barry Bonds, clarified the structure of Bonds's contract with the Giants.
According to Boras, the fifth year of the five-year, $90 million deal that Bonds signed in December 2001 is guaranteed unless Bonds fails to meet a series of thresholds based on plate appearances.
If Bonds compiles 1,200 plate appearances in 2003, 2004 and 2005, or 800 plate appearances in 2004 and 2005, or 400 plate appearances in 2005 alone, the final year, 2006, remains guaranteed. If he fails to meet any of those three thresholds, the Giants can opt out of the final year.
However, Bonds, who has 613 career homers, might be close to breaking Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755 in 2006, which could make this a moot point -- the Giants would almost certainly give it to him anyway.