Downs walked Jeter badly, setting up another round of hurried warmups from Scioscia’s bullpen crew. Curtis Granderson–who had blasted a long homer earlier in the game–came trotting up to the plate representing the winning run. After a couple of balls whizzed down and away, Curtis got one he could handle from Downs: but this time, his long, towering blast hooked foul as all of Yankee Stadium sighed. No matter: he walked, forcing in another run.
And that was it for Downs, having served his part in the Angels’ unfolding tragedy. Now it was time for Kevin Jepsen–a fireballer with control issues–to face mighty Alex Rodriguez with the walk-off run on first. A weaker man would devote the next couple of lines to making jokes about Alex Rodriguez and clutch situations. A weaker man might say something along the lines of “and we all know what to expect with A-Rod up in a close game.” OK, perhaps not a weaker man–but certainly one that has more fun with those jokes than I do. Jepsen fired off a few 97-98 MPH fastballs that A-Rod flailed at, and the game was over: Alex’s pop-up barely left the infield, and fell easily into Albert Pujols’ glove for the final out.
The Yankees just couldn’t march all the way back.
The rest of the game pretty much followed the script I wrote at the top: Ivan Nova held off the Angels for about five and a third innings–he gave up back-to-back homers in the first–but he ran into trouble in the sixth. He had previously managed to wriggle out of jams, escaping a bases loaded, two-out situation in the fourth; but he had no answer for the Angels in the sixth. First Kendry Morales and Mark Trumbo singled, Alberto Callaspo dropped a sacrifice fly to tie the game at three, then Macier Izturis (who had not homered yet this year) drove a two-run shot into the right field seats.
Nova didn’t look great this afternoon: he wasn’t spotting his fastball well, his slider didn’t seem to have any bite, and he couldn’t locate any of his breaking pitches well. He battled hard through the first five innings, but he just couldn’t escape with the stuff he had on the afternoon.
At first, it didn’t seem like Jered Weaver would fare any better: after the Pujols and Eric Aybar (really?) blasted homers in the first, Weaver immediately gave the lead back to the Yankees, allowing a long blast to Alex Rodriguez with a runner on. He struck out Teixeira and Swisher to end the inning, but he would give up the lead in the second as Eric Chavez scored from second on a Derek Jeter liner.
He didn’t exactly prove why so many people think he’s a Cy Young candidate; but he did to just enough to win on this muggy, hitter-friendly afternoon in Yankee Stadium. And that’s really all the Angels could have asked for–that he send them back to the West with at least one win.
Polite Tennis Claps:
Mike Trout: 2-for-5 on the night, but he was robbed in the first by Curtis Granderson. What an amazing player this kid already is.
Curtis Granderson: Two outstanding defensive plays and a long, long home run.
Macier Izturis: I think we should all stand and applaud the little dude getting his first homer. Well done, chap. *tennis clap*
Obnoxious Soccer Jeers:
Russell Martin: YOU CONTRIBUTED NOTHING. Seriously, though, he couldn’t even figure out bunting. Tough times.
Alberto Callaspo: His sacrifice fly was the highlight of an otherwise awful afternoon.
Mike Scioscia: OK, I understand that these little time-buying tricks are widely-used and pretty much acceptable. And I get that he’s just doing his job. But man, that last inning was painfully slow–and the little tricks weren’t even that well executed. It just seemed so obvious what was happening, if that makes sense: I expected more from him.