At the start of the broadcast today Paul O’Neill reminded viewers that Ivan Nova “knows how to win.” Then Erick Aybar hit a home run. Albert Pujols followed with a home run. So started an afternoon of frustration with Nova, and more pointedly (if irrationally), with O’Neill.
Alex Rodriguez tied the score with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first and the Yanks took the lead in the second on an RBI single by Derek Jeter. Jered Weaver wasn’t fooling the Yankee hitters much and Rodriguez and Robinson Cano had back-to-back hits in the third with one man out putting runners on the corners. Weaver stepped off the rubber and did the ol fake-to-third-throw-to-first play. He caught Cano who was tagged out in a short rundown and then Rodriguez was thrown out at home.
In the fifth, Eric Chavez singled and was doubled up when Russell Martin popped a bunt in the air back to Weaver.
Nova didn’t pitch poorly but he got into trouble in the sixth and couldn’t get out of it. Maicer Izturis–don’t ask because “Nova knows how to win,” right Paulie?–had the big two-run homer and the Angels were ahead, 5-3.
They added another run in the seventh but the Yanks hung around. Curtis Granderson, who made two fine, running catches, hit a solo homer in sixth, and Chavez hit a solo homer in the seventh. Then Chad Qualls shit the bed in the eighth as the Angels hit a few bloopers, ran, squeezed, one in the gap, and by the time Yanks came to bat, the game was 9-5.
Mark Trumbo hit a solo homer in the ninth and it seemed like that was that. But these Yanks don’t go quietly and against the Angels’ closer Ernesto Frieri they stagged a rally. Cano walked and then Mark Teixeria hit a two-run homer into the right field seats. Nick Swisher worked a 3-2 walk and after throwing ball one to Raul Ibanez, Frieri was replaced by Scott Downs. Ibanez took a breaking ball for a strike and then hit a ground ball up the middle. Looked like a sure double play, but it knocked off Downs glove and everyone was safe.
Meaning that Andruw Jones, pinch-hitting for Chavez, represented the tying run. Downs stayed away from Jones, keeping the ball low, keeping it slow. And he got him swinging on a tough, 2-2 slider. Russell Martin grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out but then Jeter walked and Granderson walked, bringing home a run. 10-8.
Jepsen vs Rodriguez. Fastball, fouled back. Argh. It was smoke and Rodriguez put a good swing on it but he was just late. Slider, up, 1-1. Fastball, up and in, 97, swung on and missed. Another fastball, even higher, 2-2. Slider? No, another fastball, good pitch, 98 mph and Rodriguez was late. Popped it up to Pujols.
Fuck and shit is what you could see Rodriguez say as he ran to first and then walked to the dugout. And he wasn’t alone.
Final Score: Angels 10, Yankees 8.
Credit the Angels for taking this one. But it was a game the Yanks should have won.
[Photo Credit: Retro New York; Al Bello/Getty Images; Kathy Willens/AP]