Yankees 14 Angels 9: X-Man and Giese Clutch; Multiple Comebacks

A late drive, propelled by the Yanks’ vaunted two-minute offense and some penalties from the Angels, pushed the Yanks to a 14-9 victory over the Angels. Just joking, but the score and late-game dramatics and elevated score gave this a late Fall, football feel. Huge win as the Yanks earned a tough, bizarre split against the tough, deep Angels. This game had a hang-with-it feel and it feels so good to have that faith in the Yanks fulfilled. Lots of heroes and heroics today, not the least of whom were Nady and Giese, with their exploits and stats and others embedded in the summary to follow.

Rasner was bad from the get-go today, sinking the Yanks into a first-inning hole. Figgins singled, Aybar walked, and Giambi’s 3-1 moved them to second and third. Anderson then wasted no time in ripping a long single into the right field corner, 2-0 Angels. After Kendrick’s single, Rasner got Rivera and Matthews to pop out, but the damage was done and, with Lackey tough, this had me worried early. JD singled and Jeter sac bunted him to second, but Abreu fanned and A-Rod was caught looking on a close fastball to end the first. With one out, Rasner walked Willits, the soft-hitting nine-hole hitter (the first of four walks this guy batting .185 entering today earned), Figgins doubled, and Aybar grounded to Giambi for what should have easily been the second out, but Giambi couldn’t find the baseball in his glove, scoring Willits, moving Figgins to third, and making Aybar safe. Teixeira’s 4-6-3 ended the second, but 3-0 looked like 13-0 with Lackey on the mound, who made it look all the more imposing when he got Betemit to erase Nady’s one-out single in the second for a DP, and went 1-2-3 through the Yanks in the third.

The Angels added on two in the fourth when, with two outs, Rasner again walked the weak-hitting Willits. Figgins then singled, and Aybar’s double plated them 5-0 Angels. In fairness to Rasner, he threw three mint curveballs in the first few innings that should have been called strikes, but he got unquestionably squeezed by home plate ump Ed Rapuano. That said, the two-out walk was terrible and terribly costly. The bottom half of the fourth made things all the worse. Jeter led off with a walk, Abreu singled sharply up the middle, A-Rod fanned on three pitches, Giambi walked to load the bases, and Nady hit a fly ball to left that should have plated the Yanks’ first run. However, Abreu mysteriously ran from second and into the third out when Anderson threw to third, with Figgins tagging Abreu before Jeter scored to make it a 7-5 DP and keep it 5-0 Angels. Positively stinking horrible base running from Abreu, a bush-league mistake. Having spent the last two years coaching GLG’s softball team and coaching lots of first and some third, I’ve always, ALWAYS reminded them while on base not to run into an out, to watch the balls hit to left and the left side. Abreu ran into an out and, worse, committed a cardinal sin on the base paths–never, NEVER make the first or third outs at third base! Horrible, and potentially costly.

Dan Giese entered and pitched three excellent innings of scoreless, one-hit ball with two walks and three K’s to hold the Angels at five. It was fantastic pitching, for the Yanks finally started to push across runs in the fifth. Pudge belted his first homer as a Yankee, ripping a 1-1 slider off Lackey to deep left to put the Yanks on the board, 5-1 Angels. The Yanks closed the gap in the sixth when Jeter led off with a single, Abreu’s single moved Jeter to third, A-Rod worked a great walk after being behind 0-2 in the count to load the bases, but Giambi’s pop out raised fears that the rally would fizzle. Yet Nady stepped up and pasted a 2-2 fastball to right center for a ground-rule double that would have cleared the bases had it stayed in the park, 5-3 and part of a huge day for The X-Man. Betemit’s 4-3 made it 5-4 Yanks, but after Pudge walked, Melky fanned as part of a tough day. Still, 5-4 put the Yanks within striking distance and raised spirits at EJ’s exciting in-game thread at The Squad.

After Giese worked through the seventh, the Yanks struck again, in good part as a result of Angels’ mistakes. Off young, hard-throwing reliever Arredondo, JD grounded out, and Jeter belted a long drive to deep center that Matthews dropped in the sun, placing Jeter on second. Abreu then atoned for his slovenly base running with an RBI single to tie the game, huge hit. A-Rod singled to left, Giambi flew out to left, but Nady crushed a 1-1 change-up 10 rows deep into the left field stands, 8-5 Yanks, a huge hit for Nady that earned him his first Yankee Stadium curtain call and capped the first of two big comebacks the Yanks needed today. First of two? Yes, unfortunately, but fortunate that they got them.

Edwar entered in the eighth and has been dynamite of late, starting out as such again by fanning Matthews and Mathis in quick succession. But again, a two-out walk to Willits was costly, for Figgins singled and Aybar worked a walk to load the bases with Teixeira coming up. I spoke a bit and politely disagreed about this with Mike Sommer from The Sommer Frieze, so this is by no means calling him out for he’s a good guy, great fan, and his knowledge of the game goes without saying. Rather, my description is intended to argue that the situation was a tough one to call. Mike argued for putting in Marte to turn around the switch-hitting Teixeira to the right side to make him hit to the deep part of the Stadium. Fair enough. I argued that the problem was that Teixeira is 5-6 off Marte with a homer, surely on the mind of Girardi. Plus, Teixeira entered today’s game hitting .286 as a righty and .273 as a lefty and, with Edwar’s change, Girardi probably figured he stood at least as good chance a to get Teixeira from the left side as Marte, who has been tough on righties this year, would from the right. Teixeria muddied the works with a big blast to deep right, a grand slam to make it 9-8. Mike had a point, but what percentages does one play there? The Stadium, Marte’s good stats against righties or his poor ones against Teixeira? Teixeira’s batting averages as a righty or lefty? A tough call given the options there, and the fault to me wasn’t Girardi’s but Edwar’s, for his abject inability to throw strikes beforehand again punished the Yanks. Additionally, I heard from Jimmy from BY&L that Mariano was icing down his arm before the game, a bit unusual from what I know. Was Mariano available today? Is his health an issue? Was this icing unusual for Mariano? I doubt the Yanks would be forthcoming about that, but the Yanks were stuck between statistical rocks and hard places, and Girardi had neither an easy decision nor clear-cut stats to inform him. He rolled the dice and lost, but certainly could have with Marte.

Thankfully, the Yanks made it academic with their second big rally of the game, again capitalizing on Angels’ mistakes in the bottom of the eighth and scoring off Shields no less. Pudge ripped a single to left and, with Melky having mysteriously passed on two grooved fastballs for chances to bunt, Girardi made a terrific move to pinch-run Christian to Pudge on 3-2. This paid lots of dividends for, as Melky hit a chopper to Aybar at short, Christian was running and easily had any play at second beat–he would have been safe on anything Aybar tried to do without question. Yet Aybar nonetheless looked to second and dropped the ball, then made a late throw to first–all safe. With JD up, Christian then ran and cleanly stole third, and Mathis threw the ball into left, allowing Christian to score and tie the game at 9. Mathis committed his 11th error of the year and, considering he had caught 17 of 59 runners entering today but had all those errors, it’s very likely that the Yanks scouted him well and made a great call, with Melky taking third. JD walked, Jeter’s 6-3 with the infield playing in was the first out, Abreu walked to load the bases and, on what should have been a 5-4-3 DP from A-Rod, Figgins flat-out dropped the ground ball as he was about to throw, scoring Melky, 10-9 Yanks. Cano, who entered to play defense in the eighth, singled to make it 12-9, Nady singled to make it 13-9 and, after Sexson struck out, Christian singled, 14-9. Veras mopped up the ninth to get the Yanks a huge, vital split.

Sure, the Angels’ mistakes hurt them and opened the door for the Yankees. But that matters nothing if the Yankees couldn’t have taken advantage of it. They did, helping atone for the blowout loss Thursday and the punch in the stomach Friday night. Nady was the hitting star today, going 4-5 with 6 RBIs today in a great, clutch performance at the plate. It’s impossible to overestimate how big Nady was today, or how meaningful his contributions were to the Yanks and the bottom of the lineup. Abreu’s base-running gaffe was atrocious, but he atoned at the plate going 3-4 with 3 runs and his 76th RBI. Pudge was 2-3 with his first Yankee homer and the big single to start the eighth-inning rally. Cano came off the bench with the two-RBI single, giving him 52 RBis this year. Jeter was 1-3 with 2 runs, JD 1-4 with a run, A-Rod 1-4 with 3 runs and his 67th RBI, and Christian’s limited contributions were crucial, with a stolen base, run, and RBI single. Good to see the kid atone for his base-running gaffe when he fell running to second in the Yanks comeback win against the A’s.

Giese was the pitching hero, going three strong scoreless innings and allowing only one hit, two walks, and striking out three on 44 pitches/27 strikes. Edwar got the win by default even though he allowed four runs and struggled for the first time in a month, but Giese was the real hero on the mound. Rasner was poor and, with Kennedy looming and Ponson stellar his last start, might not get another start. Too bad for the guy, for he lacked run support in many of his starts but was unquestionably lousy today. Veras’s ERA continues to drop, down to .263 after cleaning the mess in the 9th.

This win is huge in various ways. The Yanks earned a split and won a game that Lackey started, working him over more as the game proceeded. Like the series against Boston at home a month ago, the Yanks earned a vital split after dropping the first two games–and not looking good doing so. They earned some much-needed momentum heading into their swing out West, starting with the first of four in Texas tomorrow. Just as importantly, they showed some fight in coming back, in mustering good at-bats, in refusing to lose, in beating a team with tough pitching, and showing that, one way or another, they can hang with the Angels, still the best team in baseball that, by the way, swept Boston in Boston. This win today, this series split, is invaluable, I’d argue.

Boston and Tampa won, so the Yanks stay 5 1/2 games back. It could have been, and would have felt, a whole lot worse had they lost or flat-out blown this game. There have been times this year when we as fans have taken pause after a bad loss and pondered what it might mean for the long haul in a tight race. Now we as fans have the opposite, infinitely more sanguine scenario to consider–what this huge, emotional, pivotal win and split might mean as the Yanks continue to battle and find themselves still in the thick of the playoff race with 51 games remaining. If today didn’t get the juices flowing, you have no pulse.

Published in: on August 3, 2008 at 5:13 pm  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That was an amazing summary. You covered it all. You’re right, they can hang with the Angels.

  2. I mentioned 2 0f 2 geting back to back wins though makes that 1-0 loss sting. We’ll the match ups for Texas look splendid. The clock has started ticking they have to make ground.

  3. On the postgame, I heard that Mo was unavailable due to back spasms.

  4. It was crucial that the Yanks get the split before the series started, but after losing the first two I was hoping they’d win at least one. As you said, the Yanks have been showing a lot more fight, which I looove. I hate when they look anemic late in the ballgame or when they lose a lead, which is what was happening most of the season. I live for the rally.
    I wonder when you’re hosting the next HDLR…
    I’m hoping to host one of these next four games against my second fav team, the Rangers. Which game would be best for you or the guys to stop by for an in-gamer?

  5. best win of the year for me–obvioulsly leaving edwar in was a huge mistake- if he’d gotten the out we wouldn’t even be talking about it-but he gave up a grand slam. once he had walked the bases loaded he HAD to be removed- especially with a guy like tex on deck- edwar had lost it. and if not for the hitters -lost the game- i was furious that girardi left him in- even before the GS.

    anyway- great day- we’re facing 4 horrible pitchers in texas–hope out hitters stay hot

  6. Hey Jason! I’m here. Good blog (of course).

  7. and J, i had an idea i wanted to run by you. i was thinking of doing an in-gamer once a week, possibly on wednesdays. since you are the original in-game host of mlblogs i wanted to ask you first. i wouldn’t want it to conflict with any hdlr’s so i would cancel for any game that you want to host on a wednesday of course. let me know what you think.

  8. Thanks Sean, and good to chat with you over at The Squad.

    I agree Leo, time to get games back and now. They must win at least 3 of the 4 against Texas, no question. No split in Arlington.

    I read that late last night, Mike S. Not good news, and hopefully nothing long-term. It helps explain a lot, since Veras might have been the guy to go to, but may have been saved for the 9th with Mariano out.

    I’m not sure about the next HDLR, Vanessa, though I think I’ll shoot for Tuesday. Feel free to settle on any day you like for your in-games, and I’ll gladly mention it here and drop by. I hope your mother is feeling better, V. I’ve had her in my thoughts.

    Huge win, Mike, and the scenario with Edwar was frustrating. In retrospect, the guy to bring Marte in for was probably Aybar for, even though he was before Teixeira with the scary numbers vs. Marte and Aybar bats better versus lefties, that’s the guy I would have taken the chance with Marte, who has been very tough on righties. Nady was just huge and has just been on a tear. The Yanks’ bats will need to be hot and the team cool, for the forecast is for all four days to be well over 100.

    Thanks for the kind words, William.

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