On a hot, humid night in the Bronx last night, Andy Pettitte had a hard time staying cool and composed. Drenched in sweat and clearly off his game, Pettitte struggled with his command and the communication with his new catcher, Ivan Rodriguez–at one point Pettitte simply mouthed “four seam, four seam” before delivering a pitch. The big lefty managed to strand a pair of walks in the first inning and work around a pair of singles in the second, but in the third he gave up a pair of three-run homers to Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera that broke the game wide open.
The Yankees got a run in the fourth on a Bobby Abreu solo shot off Angels starter Jon Garland, and another in the fifth when Melky Cabrera tripled and scored on a subsequent hit by Johnny Damon, but the Angels got those back and more in the sixth. Pettitte gave up one more tally before getting the hook with one out in the sixth, but he left two runners on base for Chris Britton. Britton retired two of the first three men he faced, but the one he didn’t get was Vlad Guerrero, who added yet another three-run jack to push the score to 10-2 and end any real hope of a Yankee comeback.
Britton gave up two more runs in the eighth, but saved the rest of the pen by finishing the game (3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 K). Meanwhile, Xavier Nady, who is stinging the ball in blow-outs but still hitless as a Yankee when it matters, led off the seventh with a solo shot off Garland, then keyed a somewhat hopeless Yankee rally in the ninth with a lead-off single. The Yanks wound up scoring three runs off Darrens Oliver and O’Day in the ninth to make the 12-6 final look closer than the game actually was. Here’s hoping that rally carries over into tomorrow’s game.
In his Yankee debut, Ivan Rodriguez saw three Angels steal successfully against him and Pettitte and went 1 for 3 at the plate with a strikeout and a double play. Rodriguez’s one hit was a hard shot that Chone Figgins knocked down at third, but couldn’t gather in time to throw Rodriguez out. Pushed to third by a Cabrera single, Rodriguez made a deft baserunning play when Johnny Damon subsequently hit a comebacker that Darren Oliver juggled then threw wildly to second to force Melky. Rodriguez broke for home as soon as Oliver committed to his throw and made a nice outside slide around catcher Jeff Mathis, sticking his left hand in to touch home safely. The only problem is that home plate ump Ed Hickox completely blew the call, telling Rodriguez that he had missed the plate, and calling him out on a phantom 1-6-2 double play. Another bummer on a night full of them (I didn’t even mention the slack defense of Robinson Cano and Bobby Abreu, which stood in stark contrast to the play of the Angels, particularly Figgins . . . oh, I guess I just did).