YANKEES 5, ANGELS 3
Getting runner after runner on base to only leave them there. Getting hits and walks to pressure the pitchers to throw strikes only to not score. That pretty much sounds like a description of a majority of the Yankees’ 24 losses this season.
But, on Sunday, as Yogi Berra might have said, the foot was in the other shoe.
Los Angeles trailed the Yankees by a 4-2 score heading into the fifth inning and they ended up scoring one run in the fifth but left a total of eight runners on base in the last five innings as New York held on to beat the Angels and win a road series at Angel Stadium for only the second time in 10 series played there since 2005.
Mark Teixeira provided most of the offense for the Yankees with a solo home run in the third inning and a two-run shot in the fifth, both coming off losing pitcher Joel Pineiro (2-3). The second home run broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Yankees a lead they would never relinquish. Nick Swisher added a solo home run in the eighth inning off reliever Kevin Jepsen to give the Yankees a very important insurance run.
Yankee starter Bartolo Colon (4-3), coming off a dominating complete-game three-hit shutout of Oakland, was not quite as sharp in this outing. He was tagged by a solo home run by Mark Trumbo in the third inning and the Angels followed that up by singling twice and scoring Hank Conger on a sacrifice fly by Maicer Izturis in the same frame to tie the game.
After Teixiera homered again to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead, the Angels responded with two outs in the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Izturis and Erick Aybar to draw within a run but they ended up stranding two runners. Colon then gave up a leadoff double to Alberto Callaspo in the fifth and, one out later, Manager Joe Girardi elected to bring David Robertson.
Robertson set the tone for the bullpen the rest of day. He induced Trumbo to hit a grounder to Derek Jeter in which Jeter threw Callaspo out at third trying to advance. However, Robertson walked Conger and Peter Bourjos to load the bases. But he escaped by fanning Izturis swinging on a 2-2 curve in the dirt to strand three more runners.
After one out in the seventh inning, Joba Chamberlain was brought in to replace Robertson and he promptly gave up two singles sandwiched around a popout by Torii Hunter. But Chamberlain wiggled out of the jam by striking out Howie Kendrick on a 3-2 slider to strand two more runners.
In the eighth Chamberlain walked Conger with one out but induced Bourjos to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Mariano Rivera entered in the ninth inning and gave up a pair of singles to Izturis and Bobby Abreu sandwiched around a strikeout of Aybar. But Rivera got Hunter to end the game by hitting into a 5-4-3 double play started by Alex Rodriguez to strand another runner. Rivera earned his 16th save in 19 chances.
The victory gives the Yankees a 33-24 record and they reached a season-high nine games over .500. They remain a full game in first place in the American League East ahead of the Boston Red Sox in advance of their three-game series at Yankee Stadium that begins on Tuesday. The Angels dropped to 30-31.
- Former Angel Teixeira bit his former club in the butt with his two home runs. The two home runs not only took the team home run lead away from Curtis Granderson, but Teixeira’s 18 home runs leave only two in back of major-league leader Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays. Teixeira has now hit nine home runs in his last 16 games. In that span he is 17-for-65 (.262) with 19 RBIs. Though Teixeira is hitting .258 on the season, he has 18 home runs and has driven in 41 runs, which ties him for the team lead with Granderson.
- Brett Gardner was 2-for-4 and he contributed a two-out RBI double to score Robinson Cano with the game’s first run in the second inning. Very quietly, Gardner was 4-for-7 (.571) in the last two games of the road trip. That raised his average back to .258.
- Cano made a sensational defensive play in the third inning that saved a run and possibly more for Colon. After an intentional walk to Abreu, Boujos and Abreu executed a double steal with Hunter batting. Hunter then hit a bouncing ball over the head of Colon that was headed into center-field. Cano, not only kept the ball in the infield, he barely nipped Hunter at first to end the inning. That play stranded two more Angel runners.
- Robertson may have created most of his own problems in the sixth by walking Conger and Boujos to load the bases, however, his ability to escape from jams is reaching epic proportions. Here is a statistic that indicates how good Robertson is in tough situations. The average reliever prevents 70% of inherited runners to score. In his career, Robertson has prevented 87.5% of inherited base-runners to score. Robertson is also one of only two pitchers in the majors who has pitched at least 100 innings since 2009 and struck out batters at a rate above 12 per nine innings. The other pitcher is Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.
- Give struggling DH Jorge Posada credit for a game in which he was 2-for-4 and raised his average to .178. But Posada also hit into a double play in the second inning and got thrown out on the bases in the fourth trying to stretch a double into a triple. Posada, inarguably the slowest Yankee runner, tried to take advantage of Kendrick’s throw from left field to the wrong base (second). But Trumbo trailed Posada from his first base position to take the Kendrick’s errant relay and threw Posada out easily trying to reach third.
- Francisco Cervelli was given a start on Sunday because starting catcher Russell Martin is in a 1-for-24 slump and his average has fallen to .236. But Cervelli was not much help with the bat either. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Cervelli in limited play this season is batting a woeful .167.
- Relievers Robertson, Chamberlain and Rivera combined to give up four hits and three walks in only 3 2/3 innings but got out the sixth and seventh with two-out strikeouts and the eighth and ninth with inning-ending double plays. That is an escape act that is too close for comfort in close games. The Yankees were lucky they did not get burned. The Angels were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position on the day.
Girardi decided to take advantage of the off day scheduled for Monday by reshuffling his rotation for the week. After Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett open the three-game series with the Boston Red Sox, Girardi will start CC Sabathia on Thursday on his regular four days of rest. That will shift Ivan Nova to open the seres against the Cleveland Indians on Friday. The move also will give Colon an extra day of rest before he pitches against the Indians on Saturday. . . . Jeter picked up a single off Pineiro in the third inning and that is his 2,986th hit for his career, just 14 shy of the 3,000 mark. Girardi said it unclear if Jeter will get a day off after playing every game the Yankees have played since May 5. Girardi pointed out that Jeter has gotten somewhat of a break by acting as a DH in six of those games but said he is playing to win. If Jeter feels he needs a day off he will ask for one, Girardi said.
The Yankees ended their road trip 6-3, despite dropping the first two games in Seattle. They now fly home and will have a day off on Monday before opening a big series with Red Sox on Tuesday.
Garcia (4-4, 3.54 ERA) will start the opener. He is coming off a game in which he gave up three runs in seven innings against Oakland in a 10-3 victory. In a previous start against Boston this season, he gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings in a loss on May 15. He is 8-3 with a 4.56 ERA against the Red Sox since 2001.
Garcia will be opposed by left-hander Jon Lester (7-2, 3.94 ERA). Lester has been in a pitching rut of late. He has given up four or more runs in his last fur starts. But he was the winning pitcher over Garcia on May 15 and he is 7-1 with a 3.94 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.