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The miraculous sweep that sparked the 1979 Angels

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ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 5, 1979: Don Baylor #25 of the California Angels bats against the Baltimore Orioles during Game Three of the 1979 ALCS at Anaheim Stadium on October 5, 1979 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 5, 1979: Don Baylor #25 of the California Angels bats against the Baltimore Orioles during Game Three of the 1979 ALCS at Anaheim Stadium on October 5, 1979 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Getty Images)
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Don Baylor
Don Baylor, (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Miraculous Comebacks

On July 15, the second game of the series, the Yankees hitters came to life and built a 6-0 lead with Tommy John on the mound. The Angels didn’t score a run until the 6th inning when they put two on the board before Rich Gossage came into the game to end the inning. The Halos would eventually cut the deficit to three runs, but still trailed 7-4 in the bottom of the 9th with Gossage ready to close them out for good.

Gossage struck out Bert Campaneris and induced Bobby Grich to pop out to record the first two outs of the 9th without breaking a sweat. The Angels were losing by three runs, with nobody on, and down to their final out.

Carney Lansford got a base hit and Dan Ford beat out an infield single to bring Don Baylor, who had homered earlier in the game, to the plate as the tying run. Baylor lined a a fly ball off the foul ball to tie the game at seven. Left for dead, the Angels extended the game to the 12th and won on a Merv Rettenmund RBI single.

After a near no-hitter and miraculous comeback, you would think the magic would run out by the final game of this three-game series, but it didn’t. Once again the Angels fell behind, this time 4-1 by the 7th inning. Bobby Grich hit an RBI double to cut the lead to 4-3, but Ron Guidry carried the one-run lead to the bottom of the 9th.

With two outs, and a runner on first base, Grich came to the plate to face Guidry. And for the second consecutive game, the Halos hit a home run in the most opportune time, as Grich sent the ball over the right field fence for another improbable victory.

The sweep of the Yankees sent the Angels into the All-Star break with a two game lead over the Rangers, who, at the same time, were winning three of four against the Royals. The Angels comeback spirit over that weekend told the rest of the American League that this 1979 team meant business; they weren’t the Angels of the past. They were going to be a problem for their AL West rivals.

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1979 will always be remembered as a special year for Angels fans, and no series represents the will of that team like their three-game sweep of the Yankees in July.

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