This will not stand. This aggression will not stand.
The Temperature is Rising
Remember at the start of the season how I wondered if and when the Yankees would get into a brawl this year? Well, I thought it might go down last night. It didn’t, but the Angels are a team that would have made Leo Durocher proud. They are aggresive and fiesty and they certainly aren’t intimidated by the Big Bad Yankees. Anahiem blew the doors off of a close, quickly played game in the eighth inning last night, and when it was all over there was plenty of hard feelings for the New Yorkers. I know I was simmering, and I’m not too much happier the morning after. (Aaron Sele. I hope you are happy Alex Ciepley.)
In the second inning, Jorge Posada was hit in the face by a side-armed throw from rookie shortstop Alfredo Amezaga. Posada was trying to break up a double play, and slide toward Amezaga and not the bag. The ball actually hit his hand or chest first, but it was a violent play. While the Yankees didn’t think it was dirty, they didn’t feel it was necessary either. According to the Times:
“It was a simple double play, and I thought he could have just gone over the top and gotten the double play without doing that,” Torre said of Amezaga’s throwing style. “I’m not saying he wanted to hurt him, but I didn’t think it was necessary to do that.”
…Amezaga said he spoke with Yankees designated hitter Bernie Williams and third base coach Luis Sojo about Posada’s condition. Told it was serious, Amezaga was distressed.
“Bernie said that he was going to be out for a while,” Amezaga said. “After hearing that, it comes to your mind, ‘What have I done?’ It’s part of baseball, I wasn’t trying to hit him, and this was the first time it’s happened to me. It would be good to call him, and I will see how he’s doing.”
Yankees reliever Paul Quantrill, who saw the play from the bullpen and later gave up three runs in the Angels’ five-run eighth inning, did not understand why Amezaga threw it the way he did.
“I don’t know why the kid had to get down that low,” Quantrill said. “Last I remember, Jorge wasn’t a world-class sprinter. He wasn’t even that close to the bag. From the bullpen, it looked like Jorge was trying to get down. I don’t know if he would have even reached the bag.”
The next contentious moment came in the bottom of the fifth when Alex Rodriguez came to bat. Angels catcher Benji Molina had some stern words for Rodriguez concerning Molina’s fourth inning ground out to third. On that play, Rodriguez took about ten steps toward first before getting rid of the ball. Rodriguez was practically at the pitcher’s mound. He could have run the ball to first and still beaten Molina to the bag. After the play, Jeter was in stiches on the field. It’s one of the reasons Jeter is so likable. His laughter in the course of competition is genuine and easy. Rodriguez smiled too.
But Molina didn’t appreciate it one bit. Maybe he thought that Rodriguez was trying to show him up. I don’t think that was the case–Rodriguez just stuttered with his feet trying to gain his footing–but I don’t blame Molina for being sore. So what happens the next time Molina comes to the plate? He grounds out softly, very softly to third. Most big leaguers would have made the play close, if not beat the throw, but you can time Molina with a calendar, and he was thrown out easily. It was as if there was some cruel joke being played on him.
Jaiver Vasquez allowed a two-run homer to Jose Guillen in the first and later gave up a solo shot to Adam Kennedy. He wasn’t especially sharp again, but he settled down and pitched into the eighth. What was especially agonizing for this Yankee fan was watching wack-ass Aaron Sele (who is 5-15 lifetime against New York including the playoffs) pitching well.
The Angels added a fourth run off of Vasquez in the eighth, and Javey was fuming as he left the game. Paul Quantrill came in and intentionally walked Vlad. The 2-0 pitch was up to Jose Guillen, who did his best Manny Ramirez whip around like it was close to hitting him. Guillen, the pretty-faced slugger, glared at Quantrill and started flapping his yap. “Lighten up Francis,” I yelled from my couch. “Why in the hell is Quantrill going to hit you with two men on in a close game, you mo-mo?”
“With his 20 years in the league, I guess he didn’t like that,” Quantrill said of Guillen, an eight-year veteran. “So he decided he wanted to stare at me for a while. I told him if he wanted to come out to the mound to discuss it, he should.”
The Angels put on the double steal on the next play, and Guillen was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Everyone came home on Casey Kotchman’s double to the left field gap. The Angels were now up, 8-2.
(The fat joke continued as Benji Molina followed by tapping out weakly to Rodriguez at third.)
In the bottom of the inning, Scott Shields struck Derek Jeter out looking to start the frame. Jeter, who had two hits on the night, was not happy and starting woofing at the home plate ump Larry Poncino from the dugout. You could read his lips saying, “Bear down, the game’s not over yet.” I thought Jeter was going to get tossed. (Has he ever been thrown out of a game?) He didn’t and Shields got squeezed on a couple of pitches to Rodriguez who would reach on an error, and was straight-out robbed on a 1-2 pitch to Giambi. Shields almost popped out of his uniform. Giambi flew out to the wall in left field.
The Angels didn’t relent in the ninth, stealing bases and taking advantage of lazy fielding by the Yanks. Jose Guillen hit a double off the center field wall, and Cadillaced his way around first. Who does this guy think he is, Alfonso Soriano? He scored on a mental error by Jason Giambi. In the bottom of the ninth, Bernie Williams–who had a double on the night–reached on an error in the ninth, but he didn’t run the ball out either and instead of standing on second, he was stuck at first. Piteful Bernie, piteful.
In all, what started as a crisp, efficient game turned into a laughter for the Angels and a humilating loss for the Yankees. For Yankee fans it brought back memories of the 2002 playoffs. What’s worse, this Angel team looks to be better than the 2002 edition. I thought the two teams might actually throw down last night. They play the rubber game of the series this afternoon. John Lieber is pitching for the Yanks. He throws strikes and the Angels aren’t shy about swining the bat. It could be a long afternoon. It is going to be very hot and uncomfortable in the Bronx today. It will fell worse if the Angels stick it to the Yanks again.
The only silver lining last night was that the Sox lost to the Indians again.