Results tagged ‘ Erick Aybar ’

Yanks Barely Hang On To Edge Angels To End Skid

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

GAME 69

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.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • 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.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

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.

BOMBER BANTER

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.

ON DECK

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.

 

 

Teixeira, Martin Leave Halos’ Downs In The Dumps

GAME 86

YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5

When Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher trotted to the mound at Yankee Stadium in the bottom of the eighth inning in a 5-5 tie to talk to reliever Kevin Jepsen, he told Jepsen to pitch around pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez by walking him with pinch-runner Dewayne Wise on second and a struggling Russell Martin due to hit next.

So with two out, Jepsen walked Ibanez intentionally to face Martin, who entered the game hitting .179 and was 0-for-2 on the evening.

But Martin delivered a two-out, opposite-field RBI single that gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead and Martin later ended the game by nailing Howard Kendrick trying to take second base a pitch in the dirt for his third Angel base-runner caught stealing as New York rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the eighth to send Los Angeles to a crushing defeat on Friday.

Mark Teixeira set the stage for Martin’s heroics earlier in the eighth with a clutch three-run home run to left off reliever Scott Downs (1-1) to tie the game at 5-5. It was Teixeira’s second home run of the night. He had given the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning with a two-run shot to the same area of the left-field bleachers off Angels starter C.J. Wilson.

Teixeira also saved a run in the top of the inning when he made a diving stab of a hard-hit bouncer to his right off the bat of Kendrick. Teixeira scrambled to his feet and shuffled a perfect toss to Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda covering first to retire Kendrick. Erick Aybar followed by hitting Kuroda’s next pitch into the second deck in right-field to give the Angels what proved to be a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Kuroda and Wilson then battled over the next three innings in a game steeped in a playoff-like atmosphere with a crowd of 47,873 hanging on every pitch.

But the seventh inning proved to be Kuroda’s undoing.

Albert Pujols opened the frame with a single to left and Kuroda hit Kendrys Morales with a 1-2 pitch. Mark Trumbo then blasted a 1-1 fastball over the wall in center-field to give the Angels a 4-2 lead.

The Angels tacked on a run off Kuroda in the eighth after Mike Trout led off with a double and one out later Pujols hit a ball that sounded like he hit it with a wet newspaper but it nestled comfortably in shallow right-field just inside the line out of the reach of a diving Nick Swisher and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double to score Trout.

Over the first six innings, Kuroda had given up just one run on three hits and one walk and he fanned two. In the next 1 1/3 innings, he gave up four runs on five hits and a hit batter and struck out four.

Meanwhile, Wilson got back on track after Teixeira’s two-run home run in the third. He left after seven innings having given up just the two runs on five hits and two walks and struck seven. However, the Angels’ bullpen let him way, way down, as in the lefty Downs.

Downs started the eighth and immediately gave up a leadoff double to Derek Jeter. He then dug a deeper hole for himself by missing with a 3-2 pitch in the dirt to walk Curtis Granderson.

Teixeira then lined a 1-2 curveball into the left-field bleachers to tie the game.

With two out, Swisher worked a walk from Downs, which ended Downs’ night in favor of Jepsen and set up Wise’s stolen base as a pinch-runner and Ibanez’s intentional walk. Martin then delivered what proved to be the game-winner.

Chad Qualls (2-1) relieved Kuroda in the eighth inning and pitched a perfect two-thirds of an inning to get credit for his first victory with the Yankees.

Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his 21st save in 22 opportunities this season.

With the victory the Yankees reached a season-high 20 games over .500 at 53-33. They also have opened up a commanding eight-game lead on the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Angels must lick their wounds after dropping a game they should have won. Their record is 48-39.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Teixeira’s two home runs and five RBIs on Friday give him 17 home runs and 59 RBIs this season. His 59 RBIs leads the team. In his last seven games, Teixeira has been on an RBI tear. He is 10-for-22 (.455) with four home runs and 15 RBIs in that stretch. To contrast that, Teixeira collected only three home runs and 12 RBIs in April and four home runs and 14 RBIs in June.
  • Martin’s clutch single had to feel great because his single against the Red Sox last Saturday had ended an 0-30 stretch. But what must have really pleased Martin was the three Angels he nailed on the basepaths. He threw out Trumbo stealing in the second inning and Alberto Callaspo in the fifth. He then nabbed Kendrick after a Soriano pitch got away from him but he was able to recover quickly and throw a dart to Jeter to end the game.
  • Kuroda gave up five runs in 7 1/3 innings but his first six innings were absolutely brilliant. He deserved a better fate but he obviously lost something after throwing only 64 pitches in the first six innings. In his last nine starts, Kuroda is 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Now that Cano and Teixeira have gotten hot, the pressure shifts to Alex Rodriguez. He was 0-for-4 in the game including a weak groundout to short with one out and Granderson at third with a leadoff triple in the sixth. In his last 10 games, Rodriguez is 9-for-38 (.237) with no home runs and three RBIs.
  • Andruw Jones entered the game after a his red-hot weekend at Fenway Park, where he hit four home runs in the three games in which he played. However, he struck out twice looking and flew out to right off the lefty Wilson. His 0-for-3 night dropped his season average to .238.
  • The Yankees were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and those two hits came on Texiera’s eighth-inning home run and Martin’s game-winning single. They were 0-for-11 up to that point. Somehow they win despite this problem but will it catch up to them in the playoffs?

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees on Friday signed veteran outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to a mimor-league contract and he was assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Fukudome, 35, batted .171 with four RBIs in 24 games with the Chicago White Sox and was released on July 22. Fukudome is a career .258 hitter in five major-league season with the Cubs, Indians and White Sox.  . . .  CC Sabathia threw 30 pitches in a simulated game at Yankee Stadium on Friday and is still expected to be activated on Tuesday for a start against the Toronto Blue Jays. Sabathia has been on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left groin strain he suffered pitching in a June 24 game against the New York Mets.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their weekend three-game series at home against the Angels on Saturday.

Right-hander Freddy Garcia (3-2, 5.23 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Garcia gave up just one run in 6 2/3 innings last Friday against the Red Sox. It was Garcia’s best outing of the season. In the last 10 seasons, Garcia is 15-3 with a 2.69 ERA against the Angels.

Right-hander Jerome Williams (6-5, 4.46 ERA) will oppose Garcia. Williams is being activated from the 15-day disabled list after a serious bout of asthma. Williams is 0-1 with a 16.87 ERA against the Yankees after he was shelled for five runs on five hits and three walks in only 2 2/3 innings on April 15.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Jeter, Ibanez Power Yankees Over Angels

GAME 9

YANKEES 11, ANGELS 5

The Yankees’ game plan sounds so simple but it is not easy to do. They try to knock the starting pitcher out of the game early, keep tacking on runs against the weak underbelly of the opponent’s bullpen and win easily going away.

They did that to perfection against the Angels on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium in front of national television audience.

Derek Jeter blasted a three-run home run in the fourth inning to give New York an 8-1 lead and Raul Ibanez added a two-run shot of his own in the seventh as Ivan Nova pitched a solid six innings to give the Yankees a series-deciding victory over Los Angeles.

Nova (2-0) gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks and fanned eight batters to collect his 14th straight victory, which ties the legendary Whitey Ford for the second-best winning streak in franchise history. Roger Clemens holds the team record with 16 in a row.

The Yankees did most of their damage early against Angels right-hander Jerome Williams (0-1).

After Ibanez drove in the Yankees’ first run on a one-out single to center in the second inning, the Yankees erupted for four runs in the third inning keyed by an RBI double by Mark Teixeira and a sacrifice fly by Nick Swisher that chased Williams, who left on the losing end of a 5-1 deficit.

Reliever Hisanori Takahashi did not fare much better in the fourth when he walked Russell Martin and Brett Gardner followed with a lined single to center. Jeter then hit his second home run of the season, a line-drive shot into the bleachers in right field to give the Yankees what looked to be a comfortable 8-1 lead.

But the Angels added to Mark Trumbo’s solo home run off Nova in the second when Chris Iannetta ripped his second two-run home run of the series in the fifth. The next inning, the Angels used a two-out walk to Trumbo to add another run on a Maicer Izturis double.

The Angels then added another run in the seventh off reliever Rafael Soriano on a Albert Pujols single after Soriano opened the frame by walking Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick followed with a bunt single.

After Bobby Abreu drew a two-walk from Soriano to load the bases, David Robertson was summoned with the Yankees holding a tenuous 8-5 lead with the potential lead run at the plate in Trumbo. But Robertson got Trumbo to fly out to right to end the threat.

The Yankees then added a run on Swisher’s two-out RBI single in the seventh off reliever Bobby Carpenter. Jason Isringhausen was brought into the game to face Ibanez, but Ibanez greeted him a long blast into the second deck down the right-field line that gave the Yankees what would their winning margin.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 5-4. The hard-luck Angels, who are showing vulnerability in their bullpen this season, are 3-6.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Jeter’s amazing start to the 2012 season continues. He was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. The two hits raised his season average to .366. Even when Jeter makes outs he is hitting the ball hard. He hit a long fly ball to center in the seventh inning that was caught by Vernon Wells on the warning track. In the eighth his hard-hit grounder struck Isringhausen and Aybar had to scramble to reach the ball bounding up the middle and nip Jeter at first base with the throw.
  • Robertson’s showdown with Trumbo in the seventh was the key at-bat of the game. If Trumbo had extended the rally or homered it would have been a devastating blow to the Yankees after leading the game 8-1. But Robertson was able to force Trumbo to hit a weak opposite-field fly ball to Swisher to end the rally. Robertson did not allow a hit and his 1 1/3 scoreless innings and he remains unscored upon on the young season.
  • Ibanez, like Jeter, also drove in three runs. Ibanez now has nine RBIs on the season, which is second on the team to Swisher’s 11. This is despite the fact that Ibanez is only hitting .217. So Ibanez is making the few hits he has been getting count.
  • The Yankees as a team finally broke out of their funk with runners in scoring position.  They were 5-for-13 (.385) on Sunday. The Angels, on the other hand, were 1-for-11 (.091).

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Nova did much better than his 4.15 ERA might indicate. He did strike out eight and he looked in control of the game with an 8-1 lead. But two things hurt him: the home-run ball and walks. Trumbo and Iannetta homered and walks to Izturis and Trumbo later scored.
  • Soriano nearly blew the 8-4 lead he entered the game with in the seventh. The leadoff walk to Aybar and the four-pitch walk to Abreu put the Angels in a position to bring the potential lead run to the plate in Trumbo. Fortunately, for Soriano and the Yankees, Robertson was able to retire Trumbo and the Angels scored only the one run.
  • The Yankees scored 11 runs on 12 hits and the only starter who did not get a hit in the game was Martin. The veteran catcher did walk twice and score a run. But he is off to a bit of a slow start with the bat, hitting .182 with no home runs and one RBI.

BOMBER BANTER

Andy Pettitte threw four shutout innings for Class A Tampa on Sunday against Clearwater in a Florida State League game. The 39-year-old left-hander gave up two hits and no walks in his second minor-league start. He threw 31 of 47 pitches for strikes and induced seven groundball outs. Pettitte is targeting his return to the majors for early May.  . . .  The Yankees celebrated Jackie Robinson Day with a pregame ceremony honoring Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and his daughter, Sharon. Curtis Granderson wore a commemorative pair of Jackie Robinson Day spikes for the game and will auction them and his No. 42 jersey to benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

ON DECK

The Yankees will stay home and open a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins.

Right-hander Freddy Garcia (0-0, 5.79 ERA) gets the starting nod for the Yankees. He is looking to atone for a rough first start against the Orioles in Baltimore last week. Garcia, unable to grip his split-finger pitch in the cool weather, threw five wild pitches, but he did limit the damage to three runs in 4 2/3 innings.

He will face the former toast of Yankee fans, Carl Pavano (0-1, 5.93). In his second start, Pavano gave up five runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Angels on Wednesday. He is 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

 

Angels Pay Grandly For Error With Cano’s Slam

GAME 116

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.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • 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.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • 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.

BOMBER BANTER

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.

ON DECK

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.

 

Tex Hits Pair As Yanks’ Pen Frustrates Angels

GAME 57

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.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • 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.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • 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.

BOMBER BANTER

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.

ON DECK

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.

Pettitte’s Pitching Dominance Is Hell On Hapless Halos

GAME 17
YANKEES 7, ANGELS 1

Andy Pettitte pitched eight dominant innings and the Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli drove in two runs apiece as the New York Yankees thrashed the Los Angeles Angels 7-1 in a nationally broadcast game on Saturday from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.
Pettitte (3-0) stayed perfect on the season, giving up just one run on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Joel Pineiro (2-2), who defeated the Yankees 6-2 on April 14 in Yankee Stadium, was charged with six earned runs on 11 hits over six innings.
The Yankees tied the three-game series at one apiece and moved their season record to 12-5. They are a half-game in back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East standings. The Angels dropped to 9-10 in the A.L. West.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Pettitte was at his best on Saturday, mixing his pitches and changing his locations on the Angels. A leadoff double by Erick Aybar in the sixth inning led to the shortstop eventually scoring a sacrifice fly by Torii Hunter, which spoiled Pettitte’s bid at a shutout. Pettitte threw 75 strikes out of the 114 pitches he made. He reached three-ball counts on only five of the 28 batters he faced and he retired four of them.
  • Robinson Cano had four of the Yankees’ 14 hits. He was 4-for-5 with four singles, scored three runs and drove in another. Cano raised his batting average to .389.
  • Cervelli, filling in behind the plate for Posada following the night game, delivered the key hit of the game with two out and the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Cervelli slapped a single past Angels third baseman Brandon Wood to score Alex Rodriguez and Cano to make the score 3-0. Pineiro had walked Curtis Granderson intentionally with one out in order to challenge Ramiro Pena and Cervelli instead. Pena struck out but Cervelli spoiled the strategy with his solid single. Cervelli is batting .500 in his limited at-bats this season.
  • Nick Swisher, as expected, has come out of his funk on the road. Swisher was 2-for-4 with two RBIs with an RBI double to open the scoring the second inning and a RBI single in the fourth that built the score to 6-0. Swisher is 5-for-15 on the road trip.
  • Brett Gardner is becoming a big thorn in the side of the Angels. He was 3-for-5 with two singles, a triple, scored two runs and stole his ninth base of the season. In the third inning, the left fielder threw Angels catcher Mike Napoli out at third trying to take an extra base on a single by Wood.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Ramiro Pena, playing third base while Rodriguez took a half-day off as the team’s DH, was 0-for-4 on the day and struck out badly in the fourth inning with the bases loaded. He swung at a Pineiro pitch that actually bounced in front of the plate. But, in defense of Pena, he did make a great leaping grab of a line drive off the bat of Juan Rivera in the second inning that robbed Rivera of a sure hit.
  • Rodriguez struck out twice looking in the game. Once in the fifth by Pineiro and once in the seventh by reliever Scot Shields. He stranded two runners in scoring position in the process.
  • Though Mark Teixeira did have an RBI double in the seventh inning, he was 1-for-5 in the game and his average is now a paltry .123.
  • Cervelli did pull a base-running blunder in the fourth inning. Derek Jeter singled to score Curtis Granderson but Hunter threw out Cervelli trying to take an extra base on the play. He was out by 30 feet at third base.
DIAMOND NOTES

Angels catcher Bobby Wilson, who was bowled over at home plate by Teixeira in the third inning of Friday’s 6-4 victory over the Yankees, was placed on the 15-day disabled list and replaced on the roster by catcher Ryan Budde. CT scans on Wilson’s left ankle were inconclusive because of swelling and he is scheduled for an MRI for Monday.  . . .   Teixeira said he feels “horrible” about the injury to Wilson, who was briefly his teammate in Los Angeles in 2008. Teixeira said he tried calling the Angels clubhouse and left messages for Wilson but has not heard back. “I hope he is doing all right.”  . . .  If you need any more proof of Pettitte being historically strong in April, he now leads all active major-league pitchers with 29 career wins in the month. His 1.29 ERA is the lowest he has ever had in April.  . . .  Oft-injured DH Nick Johnson will be out of the lineup until at least Tuesday with lower back stiffness. Johnson incurred the injury while taking extra batting practice before Friday’s series opener. Johnson was 1-for-4 on Friday but treatment on his back prior to Saturday’s game failed to relieve the stiffness. Manager Joe Girardi opted to give Rodriguez a half-day off as the team’s DH and shift Gardner to Johnson’s No. 2 spot in the order.  . . .  FOX play-by-play man Joe Buck did the national broadcast of the game and did his usual number of unloading subtle shots at the Yankees throughout the game. Twice in the early going he reminded viewers that the Yankees “had blown a 3-1 lead” in Friday’s game and lost to the Angels. Well, Joe, that 3-1 lead lasted for about two minutes before the Angels scored three runs in the next half-inning to make the score 4-3. In fact, Nick Swisher tied the game in the fourth inning and it stayed tied until the two-run home run by Kendry Morales in the eighth inning that won it. Shouldn’t you have mentioned that the Angels blew a 4-3 lead, Joe? Buck also got really excited in the fifth inning when a 2-2 pitch from Pineiro came close to the inside corner on Rodriguez as if he expected the pitch to be called a strike. It wasn’t. But Buck got his chance to rejoice happily when Rodriguez watched the next pitch be called strike three with a Gardner still stranded at third. But, once the Yankees took the lead over the Angels to 6-0, Buck not only stopped taking his usual subtle digs at the Yankees, he became pretty disinterested in the game altogether. Buck has stated many times publicly that he actually dislikes baseball and he only broadcasts games in honor of the legacy of his late father, Jack.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees have won all five of their season series. They are the first team since the 1926 Yankees to do it. Now they will go for No. 6 on Sunday against the Angels with Javier Vazquez on the mound. 
Vazquez (1-2, 8.27) is trying to iron out his problem of rushing his delivery. In his last game on Tuesday he beat the Athletics, giving up three runs in 5 1/3 innings. But he also gave up two home runs and he hopes to do better. He is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in five career starts against the Angels.
The Angels will start left-hander Scott Kazmir (1-1, 7.45 ERA). Kazmir altered his delivery in his last start and earned his first career victory at Angel Stadium against Detroit on Tuesday. Kazmir is 6-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 16 appearances against the Yankees. However, of late, Kazmir has not pitched well against the Yankees. On April 15, the Yankees tagged him for six runs on eights hits and three walks in four-plus innings in a 6-2 loss in Yankee Stadium.
Game-time will be 3:35 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

Failures of Figgins, Abreu and Rivera Killing Rally Monkey

ALCS GAME 4: KEY MOMENT


It is the bottom of the fifth inning and the New York Yankees lead the Angels 5-0, having broken through and chased starter Scott Kazmir with five runs over the previous two innings. CC Sabathia is rolling again after having given up just a walk and infield single over the first four innings. The Angels, trying desperately to avoid going down in the best-of-seven championship series 3-1 must break through against the 2007 American League Cy Young Award Winner.

After one out, there is a glimmer of hope as first baseman Kendry Morales drives a high fastball into left-center for a solo home run. The Angel fans among the 45,000 in attendance begin banging their thunder sticks, trying to ignite their team.

It’s Rally Monkey time in the Big A.

GLIMMER OF HOPE

As Morales gets the glad hand all around in the Angels dugout, Mike Napoli steps to the plate. Napoli is catching despite the fact that starter Jeff Mathis had doubled in his last three at-bats and drove in the winning run the day before.
Napoli works to a 1-1 count and slaps a single just past the dive of Alex Rodriguez down the leftfield line. Now the fans are on their feet, thunder sticks flapping at 100 miles per hour. The Rally Monkey is finally awake.
After Napoli, Erick Aybar digs in determined to work the count on Sabathia and he does it. He fouls off some tough pitches to get the count to 3-2. Sabathia knows that Aybar has choked up on the bat and shortened his swing. 
His efforts to throw pitches on the corner are thwarted when Aybar reaches across the plate and fouls it off. He tries high in the strike zone and Aybar fouls it off. Sabathia has worked the first four innings in an amazing 38 pitches.
But Aybar is determined to drive that pitch count up all by himself. The next pitch will be Sabathia’s ninth to Aybar. Sabathia tries outside again and Aybar just flicks the bat and flips the ball into shallow centerfield. It drops in front of Melky Cabrera and the Angels now have two runners on and one out.
The fans are really into it now. Thunder sticks resonate in every corner of Angel Stadium.
The Angels rally is now up to two of its best hitters of the regular season; Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu. 
Figgins hit .298 and led the American League with 114 runs scored. He was the catalyst for the team’s offense all season long. Abreu hit .293 and drove in 103 runs. The two had also combined on 72 steals.
THE HOPE FADES

Sabathia fires two quick called strikes on Figgins and Figgins realizes he will not be able to work the count. He will have to be aggressive and protect the plate. He fouls off the next pitch and is still behind in the count 0-2.
Sabathia, from the stretch, throws his next pitch and Figgins’ bat rolls over the top of it and it bounces right to Robinson Cano at second base. Cano tries to get rid of the ball quickly to Derek Jeter to get Aybar at second. 
Second base umpire Dale Scott calls Aybar out but Figgins is too fast to double up at first base and the Angels still have a chance with Napoli at third and Figgins at first with two out.
It will take a two-out clutch hit from Abreu, who had many such hits for the Angels all season long. Cast adrift by the Yankees after the 2008 season, Abreu hoped to sign as lucrative a deal as the one he had with the Yankees at $16 million per season.
But because economic hard times hit baseball at the midpoint of the free-agent signing period, Abreu waited, waited and waited some more before having to settle for a low-ball $5 million plus incentives contract with the Angels.
Abreu worked a walk in the first inning but Sabathia struck him out looking in the third. In the series, the Yankees have been backing Abreu off the plate with pitches inside and throwing low and outside pitches to get Abreu out.
Abreu is usually a patient hitter, unafraid of hitting with two strikes. But Sabathia’s command has forced Abreu to be more aggressive. Angel fans have the thunder sticks and the Rally Monkey going strong, hopeful Abreu can come through.
Sabathia throws a strike. Ohhhhh! Angel fans have seen this all night.
On the second pitch Abreu sees a pitch he likes and swings but he misses it low, popping it up harmlessly into the Anaheim sky to centerfield. Cabrera camps under it and uses two hands to make sure it nestles into his glove.
Ohhhh! Angel fans fall silent, thunder sticks halt and the Rally Monkey has been foiled.
The Yankees would go on to score five runs in the final two innings and the final score ends up 10-1. The Yankees are 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and need only one victory for a trip to the World Series.

Meanwhile, the Angels squandered another chance to get to Sabathia in the sixth when Torii Hunter walked and Vladimir Guerrerro singled to lead of the inning. Juan Rivera followed by hitting into a double play and Howie Kendrick lined out to first baseman Mark Teixeira to end the Angels last serious threat. 

Figgins, Abreu and Rivera are probably the poster children for the Angels’ plight in this series. Their failures to hit in clutch situations is the main reason why the Angels are losing. Combined they are 6-for-49 in the series, a woeful .122 average. They have one RBI between them.

In a key moment in Game 4, they all failed to deliver a big hit. Now the Rally Monkey is hanging by a thread on life support with very little hope left of recovery.



Error Scores Hairston In 13th As Yanks Edge Halos

ALCS GAME 2
YANKEES 4, ANGELS 3 (13 INNINGS)


Jerry Hairston Jr. waited 12 years to make it to the postseason and he waited five hours to become the New York Yankees latest walk-off hero on Saturday night.
Hairston came through with a pinch-hit single to lead off the bottom of the 13th inning and he later scored from second on an errant throw by Maicer Izturis as the Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 and took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Hairston’s leadoff single allowed manager Joe Girardi to have Brett Gardner bunt him to second base. Angels manager Mike Scioscia then ordered righthanded reliever Ervin Santana (0-1) to walk Robinson Cano to bring Melky Cabrera up to the plate.
On Santana’s first offering Cabrera grounded a ball to the left of Izturis at second base. Instead of making an easier play to first base, Izturis elected to turn and fire the ball to shortstop Erick Aybar to force Cano.
However, his off-balance throw sailed to the right of Izturis and rolled into shallow leftfield. By the time third baseman Chone Figgins could retrieve the ball Hairston sped home without a play to end a five-hour and 10-minute marathon on another windy, rainy and chilly night at Yankee Stadium.
A wild on-field celebration ensued and Hairston received the customary whipped cream pie to the face courtesy of Yankees starter A.J. Burnett.
“I knew if I got a chance to do something, I wanted to do something positive,” Hairston said. “This game isn’t easy. I just wanted to enjoy the moment. My grandfather never had the opportunity that I’ve had. That was definitely for him.”
“That’s the beautiful thing about the playoffs,” Derek Jeter said to MLB.com after the game. “It takes 25 guys to win, and you never know when you’re going to get that opportunity.”
The walk-off victory was the second in the postseason for the Yankees, who fashioned 15 walk-off victories in the regular season. With the victory the Yankees also remain undefeated in the postseason.
For the Angels, it was another loss punctuated by an error that cost them dearly. On Friday, the Angels committed three errors and Aybar allowed a run to score in the first inning on a popup he let drop in front of him as the Angels lost 4-1.
The Angels, who committed the fifth fewest errors this season, have now committed five errors in the series.
But the Yankees were not much better in the field on Saturday. Cano committed two errors and Jeter added one. But none of those errors led to an Angels’ run. 
The instant classic walk-off victory was set up by more heroics from the Yankees’ newest “Mr. October,” Alex Rodriguez.
With the Yankees trailing for the first time in the series 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th and Angels’ closer Brian Fuentes on the mound, Rodriguez stepped to the plate with yet another chance to save the Yankees this postseason.
Rodriguez entered the game hitting .429 in the postseason with two home runs and seven RBIs. 
Fuentes put Rodriguez in an early 0-2 hole on his first two pitches. However, Rodriguez managed to get the bat on the next offering on the inside part of the plate and drive the ball on a line out to rightfield.
Former Yankees rightfielder Bobby Abreu backed up to the wall and leaped but the ball carried over his glove in the first row of the bleachers for Rodriguez’ third home run of the postseason and the game was tied at 3.
“I know I had a blast out there today,” Rodriguez told MLB.com. “That was a great game. That’s what I’ve been doing all year — trying to keep things simple and not trying to think too much.”

“I just kept yelling, ‘He did it again! He did it again!’” Mark Teixeira said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Pandemonium broke out among the Yankee fans in the crowd of 49,922 that dismissed the weather reports that warned the game may not be played or may be suspended due to heavy rain that was expected in the area.
Though it was cold (48 degrees) and windy (15-20 mph winds), the rain that did come down through parts of the game was light enough to allow both teams to play nine innings and then some. 
The Yankees actually started the game off in fine form.
In the second inning, Angels starter Joe Saunders issued a two-out walk to Nick Swisher. Cano then drilled a hanging breaking ball on an 0-2 count for a triple into right center to score Swisher with the game’s first run.
An inning later, Jeter blasted his second home run of this postseason and the 19th of his career with one out in the third inning.
Jeter’s 19th career postseason home run moved him past both Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson and into third place on the all-time list behind Bernie Williams (22) and Manny Ramirez (29).
However, Burnett — who led the American League pitchers this season in walks and wild pitches — had another one of those wild innings he is prone to in the fifth. 
Izturis led off with a double to right. After one out, Aybar singled to center to score Izturis with the tying run. After Aybar stole second, Burnett then hit Figgins with a pitch. 
One out later, Burnett walked Hunter on a 3-2 pitch that was not even close to load the bases. Burnett then uncorked a wild pitch while pitching to Vladimir Guerrero to score Aybar to tie the game at 2.
The score remained that way until the the Angels’ half of the 11th inning.
Yankees righthander Alfredo Aceves walked Gary Matthews to begin the inning. Aybar sacrificed Matthews to second with a bunt. Figgins, who was hitless in 18 at-bats throughout the postseason, then stroked a bloop opposite field single that scored Matthews and give the Angels their first lead in the series after 19 1/3 innings of play.
After an intentional walk to Abreu, Aceves got out of further trouble by inducing Hunter to hit into a double play.
David Robertson (1-0) saved the Yankees in the 12th by getting out of a jam after he entered the game with two outs. Catcher Jeff Mathis, who only entered the game in the eighth inning and batted only .211 this season, rocked Roberston with a lined double in the gap in right-center. 
Robertson walked Izturis intentionally and Robertson fanned Gary Matthews to end the threat.
In the 13th inning,  Cano committed his second error of the game on a grounder off the bat of Aybar to start the inning. Figgins sacrificed Aybar t
o second with the Angels’ second sacrifice bunt of the night. 
Robertson then walked Abreu intentionally. Aybar and Abreu both were able to move up on Hunter’s slow rolling groundout to Jeter. Robertson then got Guerrero to bounce out to Cano to end the threat and set up Hairston’s heroics in the bottom of the 13th.
“We’ve been saying all year how this team doesn’t quit, and they showed you right there,” Burnett said to MLB.com. “For some reason, we feel like when we come up last in this park, we can always win.”

“It was a long game,” Jeter said. “It seemed like a lot of missed opportunities on both sides. When you get to the playoffs, it’s tough to come up with runs. Pitching really sticks out. Fortunately for us, our pitching was a little better.”

After a well-deserved day off for both teams, the best-of-seven series now shifts scenes to the warmer climate of Anahiem, CA on Monday afternoon. The Yankees will call on veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (14-8, 4.16 ERA). He will be opposed by righthander Jered Weaver (16-8, 3.75 ERA).
Gametime on Monday will be 4:13 p.m. EDT and will be nationally televised by Fox.

Aybar’s Miscue Set Tone For Angels’ Sloppy Night

ALCS GAME 1: KEY MOMENT



It is the bottom of the first inning and the New York Yankees had just scored the first run of Game 1 in their best-of-seven series with the Los Angeles Angels. Alex Rodriguez had lofted a fly ball to centerfield that scored Derek Jeter from third. Angels centerfielder Torii Hunter threw the ball to third base to keep Johnny Damon from advancing to third on the play. Angels starter John Lackey next had to face Hideki Matsui with two out and Damon at second.

The only reason Damon was at second was because leftfielder Juan Rivera had misfired with his throw into second base on Damon’s bloop single. He missed so badly that Damon was able to take second and Rivera was charged with an error, the first of a franchise postseason record of three errors the committed in the game.

THE PLAY

Lackey starts Matsui off with a pair of breaking pitches. His backdoor slider is called a strike by home-plate umpire Tim McClelland. His curveball misses outside. On the 1-1 pitch, Lackey throws a fastball on the inside corner and Matsui swings late. The ball hits off the trademark of the bat and the ball is popped up to the left side of the Angels’ infield.
Third baseman Chone Figgins backs up to the edge of the infield as the popup settles between him and shortstop Erick Aybar. Aybar is about six feet to the left of Figgins and about 10 feet behind him. It is a cold night. It is 45 degrees and a steady wind is swirling inside the stadium, making it seem colder.
Damon, running at the crack of the bat with two outs, is cruising around third base and heading towards home plate as he runs out the routine pop fly.
The first sign of trouble is when Figgins stopped backing up and looked at Aybar. Just at that moment, Aybar looked at Figgins, who he spotted backpedaling towards the ball. Neither player called out with the customary “I got it.”
When Aybar finally realized that Figgins was deferring to him to catch the ball, it way too late for him to make a play. As the ball rapidly descended Aybar began to reach out but the ball landed harmlessly three feet in front of him.
The crowd of 48,699 mostly Yankee fans at Yankee Stadium cheered at Damon crossed home plate with the Yankees’ second run of the inning. John Lackey who had ran behind home plate to back up catcher Jeff Mathis in case there was a throw to the plate was hunched down in a crouch.
As the ball dropped Lackey rose to his feet and cursed.
Aybar looked at Figgins. Figgins looked at Aybar. The damage had been done, however.
The Yankees’ gift-wrapped second run proved to be the deciding run of the game. CC Sabathia pitched eight innings and gave up only four hits and one run as the Yankees went on to defeat the Angels 4-1 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
The Angels would go on to make two more errors in the game. Lackey would throw away a pickoff attempt at first base and Hunter would allow a Jeter single to clank off his glove to allow Jeter to reach second. Both of those errors came in the sixth inning when the Yankees scored their fourth and final run. 
Lackey, almost fittingly, was removed from the game after Hunter’s miscue.
Two of the Yankees’ four runs were unearned. It proved to be the downfall of the Angels on Friday night.
Aybar’s misplay on the Matsui popup was the key moment of the game because it set the tone for the evening.
                                                *********
“One of us has got to catch it,” Figgins said. “Simple as that.”

                                                   *********

“That’s out of character for us,” said Hunter, “We play the game right.”

                                                         


CC Puts Halos’ Speed In Deep Freeze As Yanks Roll

ALCS GAME 1
YANKEES 4, ANGELS 1


There is an old saying in baseball: You can’t steal first base. 
The Los Angeles Angels found out just how true that axiom is as CC Sabathia pitched eight dominant innings to lead the New York Yankees to a 4-1 victory on Friday night and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Sabathia, pitching on eight days rest, braved the chilly 45-degree gametime temperature at Yankee Stadium and shut down the Angels’ run, run and run some more offense by only allowing four hits and one walk and striking out seven batters.
“It was about as cold as it gets,” Sabathia told MLB.com. “I pitched in a couple of games where it snowed in Cleveland, but it was pretty nasty today.”

“CC was the cold weather,” Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. “He was pitching his butt off. CC’s the real deal, man.”
Three of the best base-stealers in the Angels’ lineup — Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu and Erick Aybar — were a combined 0-for-11 in the game with three strikeouts. The Angels, as a result, did not attempt to steal a single base in the game.
“He pitched eight innings against this club, and to only give up one run, that’s quite a performance, because this is a very offensive club,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “And he kept the guys that can create problems off the bases all night. He was sensational.”
Sabathia (1-0) was so dominant that from the last out of the fourth inning until the last out of the eighth inning he did not allow a hit and only allowed a one-out walk to Kendry Morales in the seventh inning.
He punctuated his virtuoso performance with a fist-pumping flourish after he struck out pinch-hitter Mike Napoli to end the seventh inning. A huge portion of 49,688 fans in attendance shouted “CC” and cheered as he walked off the mound.
“That was a great feeling,” Sabathia told MLB.com. “To have the stadium rocking and chanting my name, and to be able to get a strikeout — I was pretty pumped up. I don’t really show a lot of emotion a lot of times, but it came out of me there.”
The Angels had pounded Sabathia for nine runs in 12 2/3 innings in two starts during the regular season. But the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, who the Yankees signed to a $161 million contract this winter, shook off the old history and pitched his usual game.
The strong starting pitching from the Yankees has been a recurring theme throughout the postseason. Including the three American League Division Series victories against the Twins last week, Yankees starters are now 3-0 and have pitched 27 2/3 innings, given up just four earned runs on 18 hits and seven walks and struck out 28 batters. The trio of Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte have a combined postseason ERA of 1.30.
Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of some really bad mental and physical errors the Angels made to support Sabathia’s brilliant pitching.
The Yankees got started right away on rightander starter John Lackey (0-1) when Derek Jeter grounded a leadoff single just past second baseman Howie Kendrick into rightfield. Johnny Damon, who was 1-for-12 against the Twins last week, blooped a broken-bat single to left that moved Jeter to third.
Then the Angels, who made the fifth fewest errors in the American League this season, started playing like the Bad News Bears. When leftfielder Juan Rivera picked up Damon’s single he threw so wide of second base that Damon took off and made it to second base easily. Rivera was charged with a throwing error on the play.
After one out, Alex Rodriguez added to his postseason resume with a sacrifice fly into centerfield to score Jeter with the game’s first run. The RBI was his seventh in four games.
Hideki Matsui then followed with an easy infield popup to Aybar at shortstop. However, Aybar looked to third baseman Figgins to make the play and the ball dropped two feet in front of Aybar. Damon, who was merely running out the popup, scored easily and Matsui was generously given an RBI single by the official scorer.
Sabathia’s only troublesome inning came in the fourth when Pedro Guerrero thought he had hit a home run to left-center. But instead, the heavy and chilly winds knocked the drive down and the ball landed at the base of the wall. Guerrero, who has had hamstring problems throughout this season, trotted into second with a double.
Sabathia retired Rivera on a grounder to Mark Teixeira at first and Guerrero took third on the play. He then scored on Morales’ first-pitch bloop single to left to halve the Yankees lead to 2-1.
But the Yankees pushed the lead back to two runs in the bottom of fifth when Damon led off with a double to left-center. One out later, Rodriguez was walked. Matsui then followed by slicing a 1-2 pitch to left that scored Damon easily.
However, Rodriguez — attempting to score from first base — ran through a stop sign by third-base coach Rob Thomson. The throw from Rivera hit the cutoff man Aybar and Aybar threw a strike to catcher Jeff Mathis at the plate. Rodriguez then crashed into Mathis in an attempt to dislodge the ball but was called out by home-plate umpire Tim McClelland.
Television replays showed that Mathis actually never tagged Rodriguez with the glove and Rodriguez actually got a foot on the base before the tag was applied but Rodriguez and the Yankees’ bench never argued the call.
The Angels’ shaky play in the field continued in the sixth inning and it led to another run. With two out, Lackey walked Melky Cabrera. On an attempted pickoff throw to first, the ball got past Morales and Cabrera advanced to second.
Jeter then singled on a 1-1 pitch up the middle and Cabrera scored easily as Hunter, a perennial Gold-Glove centerfielder, allowed the ball to clank off his glove and roll past him for the Angels’ third official error of the night. 
“We haven’t seen our guys crack the door open for a team like we did tonight in a long time,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said to MLB.com. “The Yankees are going to take advantage of that, and they did.”

“Any time you get
a team to make mistakes, especially a good team like that, you want to capitalize on them,” Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher said. “I guess the more mistakes, the better. You can’t expect that to happen a lot. It probably won’t happen again.”
Sabathia, gift-wrapped a three-run lead due in large part to the Angels’ sloppy play, took it from there. The Angels, who had stolen 148 bases during the regular season, never could get their feared running game going because Sabathia was keeping their speedsters off base.
The only real controversy of the night occurred with one out in the top of sixth. Hunter rolled a bunt between the third-base line and the mound. Sabathia leapt off the mound, picked the ball up and gunned it to first and the throw beat Hunter. However, Hunter immediately disputed first-base umpire Laz Diaz’ out call, claiming Teixeira’s right foot came off the base.
Scioscia, who was desperate to get any runner on base he could, took over the argument and jawed with Diaz for a few minutes. But TV replays again showed that Teixeira had his foot on the base when the ball arrived, then slipped off and went back on. So Hunter actually was out and Diaz had the correct call.
Mariano Rivera came in to pitch the ninth and after a leadoff walk to Hunter, he retired Guerrero, Rivera and Morales for his second save of the 2009 playoffs and his major league-best 36th career postseason save.
But the night belonged to Sabathia, who the Yankees coveted and signed this offseason. 
“That’s why we got CC,” Damon told MLB.com. “To be a workhorse during the season, of course, but to shut down teams in the postseason.”
The series is scheduled to resume Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, though an incoming blast of winter air is expected to douse the New York area with rain. The Yankees, if the game is played, will start righthander Burnett (13-9, 4.04 ERA). The Angels will counter with lefthander Joe Saunders (16-7, 4.60 ERA).
Gametime is scheduled for 7:57 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised nationally by FOX.
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