Enough is enough is enough
I can’t go on, I can’t go on, no more no
enough is enough is enough
– “No More Tears” (Enough Is Enough) by Donna Summer
YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5
With the injuries and the losses seemingly about to bring this proud franchise to its knees the wounded, the wavering and the willing among the New York Yankees summoned just enough strength on Sunday to claim a victory to end their long and miserable West Coast road swing.
CC Sabathia held the Angels scoreless for eight innings, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells proved they do can do more than make outs with runners in scoring position and Mariano Rivera inched to the very edge of the precipice of blowing a save before striking out Albert Pujols with the bases loaded and two outs as New York escaped with a victory over Los Angeles.
In the grand scheme of things in a 162-game schedule this game may not mean a whole lot. But in the moment, both for manager Joe Girardi and his battered and beleaguered ball club, this one at Angel Stadium was a very special victory.
Sabathia (7-5) served notice early that he was not going to lose without a fight by dazzling the potent Angels with eight innings of pure brilliance, allowing them four miserable little singles and two walks while he struck out six. He even used two double plays to wriggle out of any potential danger the Angels wanted to throw his way.
Even when Mike Trout laced a lined single off the 6-foot-7 left-hander with two out in the sixth inning, Sabathia waved off Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue as if to say “I am going to win this game no matter how much I hurt.”
Meanwhile, the Yankees started off against right-hander Jered Weaver (1-3) as if it was going to be another one of those days where they flood the bases with runners all day and only to have their efforts to score dashed by weak popups or strikeouts.
Brett Gardner opened the game with a double and Ichiro Suzuki drew a walk. Both then advanced a base when Weaver’s attempted pickoff of Gardner eluded Erick Aybar for an error.
But the Yankees struggling 3-4-5 hitters ended the threat when Robinson Cano struck out, Hafner walked and Wells hit into a double play.
But the Yankees somehow put it all together in the third inning.
Chris Stewart walked, Gardner singled to advance Stewart to third and then Gardner swiped second base to set up yet another threat with runners at second and third and no outs.
Forgive the cynical Yankees fans for not being surprised when Suzuki struck out and Cano popped up to shallow left, leaving both Stewart and Gardner where they were.
But on a 1-2 count, Hafner stroked what might have been the biggest home run the Yankees have delivered since Aaron Boone’s solo shot off Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in 2003.
Hafner lit into a high breaking pitch and sent into the bleachers in left-center for what was only his third hit and his first home run since he hit his 10th on June 5 against his former Cleveland Indians. Further forgive the cynical Yankee fans for not believing what they they just witnessed.
But the inning continued when Wells singled and Lyle Overbay, pressed back into the lineup at first base in the absence of an injured Mark Teixeira, drove him home with a double off the wall in center. Jayson Nix then capped the rally with a lined single to left to score Overbay.
The Yankees had a 5-0 lead. Smelling salts and ammonia must have been used in great quantities all across the tri-state area for the team’s disbelieving fans.
The Yankees added a seemingly meaningless run at the time in the eighth inning off right-hander Jerome Williams when Cano led off with a double, moved to third on a Hafner groundout and scored on a deep fly ball off the bat of Wells.
But this is the 2013 Yankees, after all. So nothing is ever going to be that easy for them, right?
So fast-forward to the ninth with a determined Sabathia on the mound trying to close out his second complete-game victory of the season and a shutout of the Angels at that.
But Peter Bourjos singled and Trout doubled within just eight pitches and Sabathia left in favor of right-handed setup man David Robertson. Surely, this game would end soon or would it?
But Pujols lined a single so hard off Robertson’s back that it caromed all the way to Suzuki in right-field to score Bourjos and end Sabathia’s shutout.
After Robertson got the hot-hitting Yankee-killer Howie Kendrick to strike out swinging, he walked pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck to load the bases.
Exit Robertson and enter Rivera looking for his 24th save in 25 chances in what would be his last appearance at the “Big A.”
Rivera seemingly restored order by retiring Aybar on a bounce-out to Overbay at first that scored Trout but left two out.
However, neither the “baseball gods’ or the Halos were quite through toying with the fragile psyche of the Yankees – not to mention their fans who just cleared their heads from the salts and ammonia from the five-run outburst in the third inning.
In quick succession, Alberto Callaspo floated a single into right to score two runs, pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe plopped a bloop single to left to put two runners on with two out and Bourjos followed with a feather-soft looper to left to score Callaspo.
Yep, the Angels managed three hits off the great Rivera but none of them could have broken a pane of glass and they came off the bat as if the ball were struck with wet newspapers.
Trout then got Girardi and the Yankees reaching for the Rolaids when he drew a walk to load the bases. The paid crowd of 41,204 did not know if they were witnessing a cruel close to Rivera’s career in Anaheim and a proud team about to commit “collective baseball suicide” by blowing a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth.
That left Rivera to face the Angels legendary Pujols.
It was as if Rivera had said to himself, “Enough fooling around.” There was no mystery in what pitch Pujols would be getting and he got three of them.
First, a 94-mile-per-hour cutter for a called strike. Then a 94-mph cutter Pujols could only foul off. Then as the crowd stood, the runners took their leads and Girardi and his team swallowed their hearts, Rivera delivered his final 94-mph missive plate-ward and Pujols swung hard for horsehide and only came up with California air for strike three.
As Stewart raced out to congratulate Rivera, the 43-year-old future Hall of Fame closer did not smile. He knew it was a victory but he would have to admit it was more of an escape.
But this Yankee team will take it.
Despite the fact they had lost five games in a row. Despite the fact they had lost 13 of their previous 20 games. Despite the fact the lineup looks like the Yankees are playing a split-squad game in Dundin, FL, in March, the Yankees are still 38-31 on the season.
They are in third place in the American League East behind the first-place Boston Red Sox and the second-place Baltimore Orioles. But they are a mere two games behind the Red Sox in the loss column.
The Angels are in even worse shape. They are 30-39 and are 11 games out in fourth place in the A.L. West.
- It was nice to see Sabathia basically take the team on his back and carry them to victory despite what happened in the ninth. The team ace is supposed to stop the bleeding and that is exactly what Sabathia did on Sunday. If the Yankees could ask anything more of the 32-year-old left-hander it would be for him to string together about four or five more just like them.
- Hafner’s home run was a big hit for him just as much as it was for the Yankees. Hafner, 36, began May hitting .318 with six home runs and 17 RBIs. But he hit just .179 in May and was hitting an anemic .111 in June. His demise may not be over but the Yankees still need him to provide power and production in the middle of the lineup. He is now hitting .221 and he is lot better hitter than that.
- The unsung hero of this team has been Nix. All Nix did on Sunday was deliver three of the Yankees’ nine hits, he drove in a run with a two-out hit and he started a nifty 5-4 double play off the bat of Aybar in the fifth inning that erased a situation of two runners on with no outs. Nix is hitting .259 with a homer and 19 RBIs. But his numbers don’t tell the whole story of how he gets clutch hits, is solid in the field and he plays the game wisely.
I do not care that the Yankees’ three best pitchers (Sabathia, Robertson and Rivera) nearly blew a lead in the ninth and that Reid Brignac was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double play to lower his season average to .182. This win was needed and it erases a lot of very bad play on this road trip.
There was some good news and some and potential bad news about Teixeira’s sore right wrist. An MRI taken in New York indicated only inflammation and no tear in the sheath that he sustained in March. Teixeira was given a cortisone injection and he will be re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff in New York on Tuesday. There is a good possibility that Teixeira will have to be placed on the 15-day disabled list but Girardi is happy to know he does not need season-ending surgery on the wrist at this time. Teixeira was removed in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game when he complained about soreness in the wrist. Overbay will play first base until Teixiera returns to the lineup.
The Yankees will lick their wounds, literally, with a day off on Monday before opening a two-game series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Right-hander Phil Hughes (3-5, 4.89 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees. Hughes has been up and down all season and his start on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics was a downer. He lasted only 4 1/3 innings and he gave up three runs on four hits and five walks. Hughes has never faced the Dodgers.
Hughes will be opposed by left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-2, 2.85 ERA). Ryu was roughed up against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, yielding three runs on 11 hits in six innings. Ryu has never faced the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.
YANKEES 5, ANGELS 3
Within 18 hours, the New York Yankees showed the difference between their team and the Los Angeles Angels.
Handed a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning of Friday, the Angels’ bullpen, behind Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen, imploded and gave up four runs in a 6-5 defeat.
On Saturday, Freddy Garcia left the Yankees with a 4-3 lead after five innings and the bullpen, behind setup man David Robertson and closer Rafael Soriano, held the lead as New York took its second straight game this weekend over Los Angeles in front of a paid crowd of 47,789 at Yankee Stadium.
Garcia (4-2) battled the Angels as best he could, giving up three runs on five hits and five walks and striking four batters before having to leave after five innings having thrown 98 pitches.
The Yankees, who lead the major leagues in home runs, hit two more on Saturday to give them 138 on the season and provide the Yankees with a lead they would not relinquish.
After the Angels loaded the bases on Garcia with two out in the first inning, Alberto Callaspo laced a 2-1 pitch into right-field for a two-run single to give the Angels an early 2-0 lead.
However, the Yankees answered in the bottom of the inning after two men were out and Derek Jeter was still on first with leadoff infield single off Angels starter Jerome Williams (6-6). Robinson Cano extended his season-high 17-game hitting streak by lining a long blast into the depths of Death Valley in left-center that struck the top of the wall and bounced into the bleachers for his 21st home run of the season.
Two innings later, Chris Stewart reached first on a single to center and one out later Curtis Granderson lashed a 2-2 pitch down the line into the right-field bleachers for his 24th home run of the season.
The Angels got one of those two runs back in the fourth inning when Howie Kendrick drew a leadoff walk, stole second, moved to third on a Peter Bourjos groundout and scored on a groundout off the bat of Bobby Wilson.
The Yankees added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Alex Rodriguez hit he first pitch of the inning into the gap in left-center for a double and Cano followed with a single up the middle that caromed off the second base bag and rolled into center, allowing Rodriguez to score easily.
Williams gave up five runs on seven hits and one walk and struck out four in six innings.
The Yankees’ vaunted bullpen took it from there.
Cody Eppley pitched two scoreless innings, Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth and Soriano pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two batters, to collect his 22nd save in 23 opportunities this season.
Though the Angels have been one of the Yankees’ toughest opponents over the last decade, the Yankees have now won 30 of their last 45 contests against them.
With the victory, the Yankees have increased their major-league-best record to 56-33 and their lead in the American League East remains at 8 games over the second-place Baltimore Orioles.. The Angels are now 48-43.
- Cano was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs and is now hitting .315 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs on the season. During his 17-game hitting streak, Cano is 27-for-69 (.391) with six home runs and 19 RBIs. The Yankees are 12-5 over that 17-game stretch and Cano is a big reason behind the surge.
- Granderson’s home run was his 24th of the season, which puts him in fifth place in the American League in that category. It was Granderson’s first home run since June 30, though he is hitting .281 over that 10-game stretch. Granderson has also struck out 11 times in his 32 at-bats over the last 10 games.
- Eppley was sensational in his two innings of work. He only gave up a one-out single to Wilson in the sixth. Robertson is also beginning to look more like the Robertson the Yankees were accustomed to seeing before he suffered his left oblique injury. He struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up a single to Bourjos. Soriano has been a revelation in replacing a living legend like Mariano Rivera. Soriano struck out Mike Trout to open the ninth and ended the game by fanning Albert Pujols. This bullpen is just amazing.
I am not going to post any negatives when Garcia kept the lead through five innings, the Yankees got power from Cano and Granderson and the bullpen held the lead late. The Yankees also were 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left only two men on base. Hallelujah!
The Yankees will get out their brooms on Sunday and look for a three-game sweep of the Angels.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (10-3, 3.92 ERA) will take the mound for the Yankees. Nova gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out 10 in six innings in a victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. Nova beat the Angels on May 30 and is 3-1 with a 5.11 ERA in four starts against them in his career.
All-Star right-hander Jered Weaver (10-1, 1.96 ERA) will pitch for the Angels. In his last start on July 7, Weaver shut out the Baltimore Orioles on three hits and one walk and fanned five in eight innings to notch his 10th victory. Weaver is 5-2 with a 4.79 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by TBS and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5
Throughout their three-game series with the Angels the Yankees have banging their heads against a wall in trying to get hits at the wall off outfielders Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos. It took them three games but they found an answer.
Raul Ibanez laced a one-out triple over Boujos’ head and off the wall for a triple and Nick Swisher followed a sacrifice fly to Trout in left that scored Ibanez with the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning and New York held on to edge Los Angeles on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.
Earlier in the game, the Yankees torched Angels starter Ervin Santana with five runs in the third inning as Curtis Granderson smacked a three-run home run safely over the wall in right field for his 16th home run of the season. Robinson Cano followed two batters later with a two-run shot of his own – again nowhere near the gloves of the Angels’ outfielders.
Staked to the 5-1 lead, Yankees starter Ivan Nova was unable to hold it for long. The Angels struck for four runs of their own in the fourth inning on a two-run homer by Trumbo and a two-run double by Trout.
But Nova (6-2) was able to complete 6 2/3 innings and pick up the victory, giving up five runs on eight hits and and three walks and striking out two batters.
Santana left after five innings, also surrendering five runs on six hits and two walks and fanning four.
Reliever Hisanori Takahashi (0-2) took the loss as the Yankees snapped the Angels’ season-high eight-game winning streak.
Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the ninth by giving up a one-out walk to Alberto Callaspo and a single to Albert Pujols. But he was able to get Trumbo to fly out to left to end the game and earn his sixth save in as many opportunities.
With the victory the Yankees improved to 27-23. The Angels fell back to .500 at 26-26.
- Ibanez was 2-for-4 on the night, including his clutch triple off Takahashi in the sixth. Ibanez was 4-for-11 (364), drove in a run and scored three in the series. Ibanez is hitting .288 in May with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He also has held his own in the outfield even though the Yankees do miss Brett Gardner’s defense.
- Swisher’s sac fly must have been some form of retribution for him for the out-and-out thievery that Trout and Bourjos pulled on him on Tuesday. Despite going only 2-for-11 (.182) in the series, Swisher was able to drive in a run in each of the three games and he now has a team-leading 32 on the season.
- Cory Wade redeemed himself after giving up that walk-off game-winning home run to Trumbo in the ninth on Monday. He retired all four batters he faced and struck out three of them. He came on the seventh after Boone Logan had surrendered two-out singles to Kendrys Morales and Trumbo. Wade struck out Howie Kendrick on a 3-2 pitch to strand his 21st and 22nd inherited runners of the season. Wade has not allowed a single inherited runner to score this season.
- Though Nova was the winning pitcher he is still having trouble keeping the baseball in the yard. The home run Trumbo hit in the fourth was the 13th he has allowed this season in 10 starts. Nova succeeded in this game by wriggling out of trouble. He loaded the bases with no one out in the first but gave up just one run on a sac fly by Trumbo. He also benefitted from some good defense behind him by Cano and two double plays got him out the third and fifth innings.
- Eric Chavez had a rough night. He went o-for-4 including hitting into a double play, a strikeout and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Chavez ended April with a .321 average but he is struggling mightily at the plate on the May. He is hitting .213 with no home runs and four RBIs this month.
- The Yankee offense took a long siesta after Cano’s home run in the third inning built their 5-1 bulge. For the rest of the game the Yankees were 1-for-21 (.048) and the one hit was Ibanez’s well-timed triple. By contrast the Angels were 10-for-27 (.370) after the third inning. It is a miracle the Yankees pulled the game out.
The Yankees will take Thursday off as they head to Detroit to continue their nine-game road trip by starting a three-game weekend series with the Tigers on Friday.
The Yankees will call upon ace left-hander CC Sabathia (6-2, 3.66 ERA). Sabathia is coming off a two-run, seven-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. He is 16-12 with a 4.46 ERA in his career against the Tigers, including the eight innings of two-run ball he threw at them for a victory on April 29.
The Tigers, meanwhile, lost starter Doug Fister to injury and they called up left-hander Casey Crosby from Triple-A Toledo to make a start. Crosby, 23, was 4-2 with a 4.26 ERA at Toledo. This will be his major-league debut.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
If A.J. Burnett does nothing more for the New York Yankees as a pitcher he did them a major favor off the field this week.
The Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels had worked a trade of the 35-year-old right-hander to the Angels in exchange for former Yankee outfielder Bobby Abreu.
However, as part of Burnett’s five-year contract with the Yankees, Burnett had the right to block a trade to up to 10 major-league teams. The Angels so happen to be one of those teams and he rejected the trade.
For the Yankees’ sake, I am very happy that A.J. rejected that swap. Abreu, who will turn 38 in March, is on a fast downward escalator in his career. A career .293 hitter, Abreu hit .255 in 2010 and a career low of .253 in 2011 with only eight home runs and 60 RBIs in 142 games.
Abreu is available because the Angels’ outfield is filled with left-fielder Vernon Wells, center-fielder Peter Bourjos and right-fielder Torii Hunter and, with the signing of free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols, the Angels already have a logjam at designated hitter between former starting first baseman Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo, who hit 29 home runs as a rookie first baseman last season.
The Angels were seeking Burnett as a No. 5 starter behind ace right-hander Jared Weaver, free-agent lefty C.J. Wilson and right-handers Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.
Abreu is owed $9 million in the final year of his contract and Burnett is owed $33 million over the final two seasons of his contract. It is unclear how much of Burnett’s salary the Yankees were willing to pay. A source did say it was a “considerable portion” and the Angels would not have been obligated to pay Burnett anything until the 2013 season.
Abreu likely would have assumed a platoon left-handed-hitting DH role with the Yankees in a tandem with the righty-swinging Andruw Jones. The Yankees would then have some money left over to re-sign backup infielder Eric Chavez to complete the 2012 roster. The Angels would get a No. 5 starter and be rid of an expensive bench player without adding money to the 2012 payroll.
Reports indicate that Burnett rejected the trade because his wife does not like flying to attend Bunrett’s games. That is the reason Burnett listed all of the West Coast teams on his 10-team no-trade list. The same reports indicate that the Yankees are still trying to pursue a trade for Burnett with the Pittaburgh Pirates.
So far the Yankees have struck out on deals for Burnett that included 30-year-old first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones of the Pirates, 34-year-old first baseman/DH Travis Hafner and now Abreu. However, if they agree on a deal with the Pirates to unload a portion of Burnett’s salary and the Yankees can get a few young prospects from the Pirates in return for Burnett they likely would have enough money to sign a free-agent DH this weekend and work out a deal with Chavez.
The Yankees are looking to add former Phillie outfielder Raul Ibanez, who said he would be willing to accept less money in order to play with the Yankees. The team also possibly could sign two members of the Yankees’ 2009 world championship club in Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Right-handed-hitting DH Vladimir Guerrero also expressed an interest in playing with the Yankess but the team is strictly looking at signing a left-handed hitter.
Let’s face reality here. The Yankees would be better off with a combination of either Ibanez and Chavez or Damon and Chavez than Abreu and Chavez. That is the reason the Yankees should actually thank Burnett for nixing the deal and exercising his no-trade rights. It now actually forces the Yankees into trying again with the Pirates.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and his Pirates counterpart Neal Huntington have spent so much time talking with each other this week they may end up picking out china patterns. The Pirates remain confident a deal can be reached, but the Yankees have told the Pirates they would like the deal completed before Burnett is required to report to the spring training in Tampa, FL, on Sunday.
The two teams are trying to come to agreement on how much money the Pirates will pay towards Burnett’s contract and what prospects the Pirates would be willing to trade.
YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5
They say behind every dark cloud is a silver lining.
On Sunday, the New York Yankees benefitted from a silver-lined ray of sunshine in the seventh inning that prevented Peter Bourjos from catching a fly ball to centerfield off the bat of Mark Teixeira and cost the Los Angels Angels the game. The game-tying run would have scored on what would have been a sacrifice fly anyway, but Bourjos’ misplay allowed a second run to score as the Yankees halted a four-game, three-city losing streak in front of 42,581 fans at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.
The Yankees were trailing Ervin Santana and the Angels 5-4 at the start of the seventh. But Brett Gardner greeted Santana with a single up the middle into centerfield. Derek Jeter followed with a sharp single to right-center that advanced the speedy Gardner to third base.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia removed Santana (11-11) in favor of left-hander Scott Downs. Downs was able to strike out Curtis Granderson but Teixeira lifted a deep fly ball into straightaway centerfield. Bourjos camped under it but he lost sight of the ball and it fell out of his glove and rolled away from him.
Gardner scored easily and Jeter was able to speed his way around third and into home without a play as the Yankees were able to take their first lead of the game.
The Yankees’ bullpen troika of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera managed to make the one-run lead hold up over the final three innings.
Cory Wade (5-0), who pitched a scoreless sixth in relief of starter Freddy Garcia, got credit for the victory. Rivera recorded his 40th save of the season. In his 15 seasons as the Yankees’ closer he has notched 40 or more saves in eight of them. It also was the 599th of his career. He needs only three saves to pass Trevor Hoffman for first place on the all-time saves list.
The Yankees’ victory improved their season record to 88-57 and, coupled with the 9-1 loss by the Boston Red Sox to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees have increased their lead in the American League East to 3 1/2 games. Despite the fact the Yankees had lost four in a row, the Red Sox now have dropped five in a row and are only 3 1/2 games ahead of Rays in the wild-card race. The Angels, who are 80-66 on the season, are only five games back.
- The Yankees should be called the Ache-ees for all the injuries they are playing through on this road trip. They played Sunday without Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli but they were able to keep scratching back from behind on Santana. They scored only nine runs on 22 hits in their last four games. Today’s six runs on eight hits showed signs of life for a team that has looked dead tired.
- Robinson Cano finally stopped swinging at pitches out of the strike zone long enough to collect two hits, including a solo home run in the fourth off Santana that drew the Yankees to within a run. It was Cano’s 25th home run and his 106th RBI of the season. His career highs in homers and RBIs were set last season when he hit 29 home runs and drove in 109 runs.
- Curtis Granderson has struck out so many times during the month he looks like he will have a shot to catch Cincinnati’s Drew Stubbs for the major-league lead (188). Granderson has 159 but he has struck 14 times in his 37 at-bats this month. But Granderson was able to connect for a two-run home run off Santana in the fifth inning that brought the Yankees back to within a 5-4 score with the Angels. It was Granderson’s 39th home run and he now has 111 RBIs, which leads the American League.
- Eric Chavez continues to provide both offense and defense replacing Rodriguez at third base. Chavez was 2-for-4 with a double and a single and he drove in a run. One of the reasons the Yankees have been able to withstand this recent spate of injuries is because of solid play off the bench from Chavez and others.
- Garcia struggled and had to battle in every inning against the Angels. Howie Kendrick followed a leadoff single by Erick Aybar in the first with a two-run home run to put Garcia and the Yankees in an early 2-0 hole. The Angels played their usual pop-gun infield rollers and bunts offense to steal a run on a wild pitch in the third. Bourjos then connected for a two-run home run in the fourth. But give Garcia credit for escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth by inducing rookie slugger Mark Trumbo into an infield popup and getting Alberto Callaspo to roll out weakly to second to end the threat.
- Jesus Montero came back to Earth a bit with three strikeouts against Santana. Pressed into service as the catcher with both Martin and Cervelli out, Montero also allowed two stolen bases in the fifth and he seemed to be at fault for not blocking Garcia’s wild pitch in the third. But he did nail Callaspo on an attempted steal in the second and he drew an intentional walk in the seventh from Downs.
- Eduardo Nunez was 0-for-3 with a walk in the Sunday’s game and he is in the throes of a his worst slump of the season. Since Aug. 28, when he was hitting .280 on the season, Nunez is 3-for-34 (.088) and his average has dropped to .256.
The Yankees put out an emergency call to catcher Austin Romine, who had completed his season at Double-A Trenton, and he made his major-league debut in the seventh inning. Romine replaced Montero behind the plate and he likely will do the bulk of the catching until Martin and Cervelli return. Ironically, when Romine entered the game, his brother Andrew was watching from the Angels’ dugout. Andrew is a third baseman who was a September call-up for the Angels. The Yankees hope to have Swisher and Martin back in the lineup soon. Rodriguez and Cervelli are going to need more time before they are able to return.
THIS TRANSMISSION WAS DELAYED
YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5
Managers always warn their teams the importance of playing errorless defense against the Yankees because they have a habit of making teams pay for their mistakes. Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis received a graphic demonstration of how that can play out on Thursday.
Izturis botched a routine Mark Teixeira grounder with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to load the bases and Robinson Cano followed with a laser line-drive home run off the facing of the second deck and into the right-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium off reliever Scott Downs as New York held on to defeat Los Angeles.
It was Cano’s fifth career grand slam and his 20th home run of the season. The key blow also broke a two-all tie and handed a 2-1 series victory to the Yankees over one of their chief rivals for the American League wild-card spot.
Rafael Soriano (2-1) pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the top of the seventh to get credit for the victory. Reliever Fernando Rodney (2-4) took the loss. Mariano Rivera got credit for his 30th save, however, his week of hiccups continued when he surrendered a three-run home run to pinch-hitter Russell Branyan in the ninth.
Rodney opened the key seventh by walking the No. 9 hitter, Francisco Cervelli. Brett Gardner moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Russell Martin was sent in to pinch-run for Cervelli and Rodney ended up walking Derek Jeter.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia replaced Rodney with the lefty Downs to face Curtis Granderson and he fanned Granderson on a slider in the dirt. Downs then thought he had escaped potential danger when Teixeira tapped a high-hopper over the mound to Izturis. But the ball careened off Izturis’ glove and rolled to his right. Instead of the end of the inning, the bases were loaded for Cano.
Cano then redirected a 0-1 Downs inside fastball on a line into the right-field seats to give the Yankees a 6-2 lead. Most of the crowd of 47,431 in attendance erupted in cheers as Cano took a matinee curtain call.
Yankee starter Bartolo Colon pitched well and was only hurt in the fifth inning of a scoreless game. It started with a one-out infield single by Erick Aybar, who was 0 for his last 30 at-bats. Alberto Callaspo followed with a two-run homer into the second deck down the right-field line.
Angels starter Tyler Chatwood held the 2-0 lead until the bottom of the sixth inning.
Derek Jeter opened the frame with his third consecutive hit and his second straight infield single. Granderson then connected on a long fly ball to right that carried into the bleachers in right-center for his 32nd home run of the season and his fourth home run of the three-game series against the Angels.
With the Yankees up 6-2, manager Joe Girardi opted for Cory Wade to close out the ninth. But Wade ran into trouble after getting the first out. Izturis singled up the middle and Peter Bourjos followed with a double down the left-field line. Girardi then brought in Rivera to close the game.
However, Branyan, who owns two of the longest home runs in new Yankee Stadium history, connected on a first-pitch cutter and the ball carried high and out to the right-field seats to make it 6-5.
In his last three appearances spanning 2 2/3 innings, Rivera has given up four runs on four hits and two of those hits have been home runs. He now has a loss, a blown save and one very close shave in this contest.
Rivera was able to retire Aybar and Callaspo to collect his 30th save in 35 chances this season. Rivera has now saved at least 30 games in 14 of the 15 seasons he has been the closer for the Yankees and it was his ninth in a row.
With the victory the Yankees improved to 71-45 and they also gained a half-game on the idle first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. They are a game back. The Angels dropped to 64-54 and they are now eight games behind the Yankees in the wild-card standings.
- The Angels do not want to see Granderson for a long time. In the three-game series, Granderson was 4-for-12 with all four hits home runs. He drove in seven runs and scored five. Granderson is now tied with Teixeira for second in the majors in home runs, one behind the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista (33). In addition, Granderson took over the major-league lead in RBIs with 93, one more than Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez. He also leads the majors in runs scored with 105, 21 more than Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury.
- The Angels also do not want to see Cano. He was 7-for-12 (.583) for the series with four extra-base hits, including two home runs. He scored three runs and drove in six. That means he and Granderson combined were 11-for-24 (.458) with six home runs, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored. The two lefties were pretty much a two-man wrecking crew to Angels pitching.
- Jeter’s three-hit game raised his season average to .276. Since coming off the disabled list on July 4, Jeter is 39-for-125 (.312) with two home runs and 23 RBIs. He also has scored 21 runs and stolen five bases. Rumors of the demise of “The Captain” might be greatly exaggerated.
- Soriano gave up a one-out single to Bobby Wilson in the seventh inning. That was the first baserunner he has allowed over his six appearances since coming off the disabled list. He had retired 15 batters in a row. He retired the next two batters to complete six straight scoreless appearances.
- It is obvious that Rivera is in one of his typical in-season pitching slumps. His 13.50 ERA over his last three appearances and the two home runs he has surrendered in this series are an indication of it. But the Yankees remain unconcerned about their Hall-of-Fame-bound closer. Unless the Yankees are hiding an injury, Rivera should snap out of it soon. That is the hope anyway.
- Eric Chavez had a rare rough afternoon at the plate, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout and he did not get a ball out of the infield. His batting average dropped below .300 to .295 but it is obvious that Girardi will continue to use the veteran third baseman over Jorge Posada, who is slumping badly from both sides of the plate.
- Eduardo Nunez also took a rare 0-for-4 collar and it dropped his average to .268. Nunez actually has been filling in admirably at short for Jeter and at third for Alex Rodriguez. He is 0-for-8 in his last two games and this is the first time he has not gotten a hit in two consecutive games he has started since July 18 and 19 against Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg, FL.
Girardi said the Yankees will have a decision on their five-man rotation by this weekend. They have to choose to remove one starter between A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes. Burnett, who is winless in his last seven starts and is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA, will not get another start before a decision is made. Meanwhile, Hughes will get a start on Saturday against Tampa Bay. Hughes is 2-3 with a 4.55 ERA in six games (five starts) since coming off the disabled list in July. Ivan Nova, who has won all three of his starts since being recalled from the minors and who is 11-4, will remain the rotation along with Colon, CC Sabathia and Freddy Garcia.
Now that the Yankees have dispatched one potential wild-card rival in the Angels, they will face another in the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-day weekend home series.
The Yankees will open the series with CC Sabathia (16-6, 2.81 ERA). Sabathia is coming off a spanking he took at the hands of the Red Sox. He is 0-4 against them this season and 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against the rest of baseball. He is 9-6 with a 3.00 ERA in his career against the Rays and he is 1-1 this season.
The Rays will counter left-hander David Price (9-10, 3.89 ERA). Price also struggled in his last outing. He gave up four runs on 4 2/3 innings against Oakland on Sunday. Price is 3-2 with a 3.97 ERA in his career against the Yankees and he is 0-1 with a 5.71 ERA against them in three starts this season.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised by the YES Network.
YANKEES 9, ANGELS 3
That is a word that can apply to both Ivan Nova and Curtis Granderson. Nova is the rookie who was sent down to the minors and who is trying desperately to stay. Granderson is the veteran who had a horrible initial season with the Yankees but is making everyone forget because of his sterling 2011 season.
Both Nova and Granderson played key roles Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium as New York raced to an early and lead and coasted to victory over Los Angeles.
Nova (11-4) pitched his third consecutive solid game with six strong innings and Granderson provided the bulk of the offense with a pair of home runs and four RBIs as the Yankees defeated a pitcher making his major-league debut against them for the first time since July, 2004.
Nova, 24, gave up three runs on five hits and three walks over six-plus innings to take the lead in victories among all rookie major-league pitchers. In his three starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Nova is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA. With Manager Joe Girardi looking to remove one starter from what is a six-man rotation at the moment, Nova is staking a claim for one of those five spots.
Granderson and the Yankees opened the scoring early on 23-year-old Garrett Richards, who was called up from Double-A Arkansas to make his debut. But jitters and a sellout crowd of 46,967 may have played a part as he walked Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter to begin the game. Two outs later, Granderson connected with a fastball from the right-hander and he deposited it into the bleachers in right-centerfield for his 30th home run of the season, which ties his career high set with the Detroit Tigers in 2009.
Richards then appeared to settle down for two innings. But the Yankees added a pair of runs in the fourth when Robison Cano opened the frame with a triple and Nick Swisher drove him in with a single. Eric Chavez then followed with a double off the wall in right-center to score Swisher.
Granderson added a run in the fifth with a one-out solo home run off Richards again, this time it landed in the second deck down the right-field line. Granderson now has has a career-high 31 home runs and 91 RBIs on the season.
Richards (0-1) pitched five innings, giving up six runs on six hits and two walks and he struck out two.
Nova was touched for a solo home run off the bat of Peter Bourjos in the fifth and he was chased in the seventh after he gave up a walk to Torii Hunter, a single to Mark Trumbo, an RBI single to Vernon Wells that scored Hunter and a walk to Alberto Callaspo to load the bases. Before the sixth inning, Nova had recorded 14 of his 18 outs on ground balls.
Rafael Soriano was summoned from the bullpen to replace Nova. He did allow Trumbo to score but the Yankees gladly gave up the run to complete a Jeter to Teixeira double play. Soriano then retired Jeff Mathis on a flyout to end the threat.
The Yankees meanwhile tacked three more runs on the board off reliever Joel Pineiro. Cano struck the big blow in the seventh with his 19th home run of the season, a two-run lined shot to the opposite field in left-center.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 70-45. They also gained a full game on the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East as the Minnesota Twins defeated Jon Lester and his teammates 5-2 at Target Field. The Yankees now trail by 1 1/2 games. The Angels, meanwhile, fell to 64-53.
- Nova was unable to locate his slider at all. So he was forced to rely on his sinking fastball and curveball exclusively. Catcher Russell Martin said Nova’s stuff was the worst he has had since he was recalled but the decision to scrap the slider showed how much Nova has matured as a pitcher in a short time. His effort means Girardi must decide to trim a starter from between Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
- Granderson showcased his unbelievable revival season to a national TV audience on ESPN. Though most pundits believe Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox is the front-runner for the A.L. MVP award, Granderson is giving the first baseman a run for his money with his magnificent season. To have 31 homers, 91 RBIs, a major-league-leading 104 runs scored and a .275 average with 22 stolen bases in early August is not too shabby.
- Cano is beginning to rediscover his home run stroke. He has three home runs in his last seven games and he is 10-for-28 (.357) with seven RBIs over that span. Five of his 10 hits have been for extra bases. Cano is batting .343 in August and has raised his average to .299.
- Soriano is proving his arm is sound after returning from two months on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. In his five appearances, Soriano has not given up a hit or a run in his five innings of work. He also has not walked a batter and struck out five. His presence deepens the bullpen and takes some pressure off David Roberston and Mariano Rivera.
There is not much to criticize tonight. Nova pitched well, the offense got untracked early and there were some exceptional defensive plays that helped the Yankees maintain their lead. Breaking their three-game losing streak was very much needed.
Alex Rodriguez will get back into action on Friday as the designated hitter at a minor-league game in Tampa, FL. Rodriguez, who is recovering from right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, will either play for the Class A Advanced Yankees or the Gulf Coast League Yankees and then play third base in a game on Saturday. The Yankees hope to activate Rodriguez on their road trip to Kansas City that begins on Monday. . . . For the third consecutive game, Chavez was inserted as the designated hitter against a right-handed starter instead of Jorge Posada. With Andruw Jones drawing the DH duties against left-handers, it appears Posada, who is hitting .167 in August after hitting .217 in July, is without a defined role on the team. . . . Despite blowing his fifth save of the season on Sunday and losing his second game of the season on Monday, the Yankees are not concerned about Rivera. Despite the back-to-back setbacks, Rivera is 1-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 29 saves in his 46 appearances.
The Yankees will try to win the rubber game of theie three-game home series against the Angels on Thursday.
Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.33 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Though Colon lasted only 4 2/3 innings on Friday against the Red Sox, he gave up only two runs on six hits in a game the Yankees won 3-2. Colon beat the Angels on June 5 in Anaheim, giving up three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He is 7-5 with a 3.25 ERA against them since 2001.
Colon will be opposed by Angels rookie right-hander Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.10 ERA). Chatwood has given up 11 runs over 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts. He has just one win since June 25. He has never faced the Yankees before.
Game-time will be at 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised by the YES Network.