The final result looks similar to those two frustrating losses in Seattle — one-run game against an elite starting pitcher — but this one felt very different. It’s not a game the Yankees blew, it’s just a game they didn’t win. It’s easy to look back at the six-pitch sixth inning, or the double that bounced over the wall, or Ivan Nova’s sloppy first inning as possible turning points, but that’s all based on speculation of what might have happened. Bottom line, a very good pitcher shutdown the Yankees lineup tonight.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of making him work,” Joe Girardi said. “But we just didn’t get many hits.”
The Yankees had only three hits, and it’s hard to win with a 3 in the hit column. One thing they did well — beginning with Derek Jeter’s opening 15-pitch at bat — was make Jered Weaver throw a bunch of pitches. They had him at 101 after five innings, but a six-pitch inning let him off the hook a little bit. The top offenders were Robinson Cano and Russell Martin, each of whom made a one-pitch out.
“If the guy gets a hit, no one questions it,” Girardi said. “He’s got outstanding breaking stuff. It’s not a guy you want to get behind in the count too often. The guys took an approach. They tried to jump him, and they didn’t get it done.”
Trying to jump on an early strike. Not wanting to fall behind in the count. Not wanting to take pitches because Weaver usually doesn’t walk too many guys. Every explanation for that six-pitch inning makes sense, but still… With a pitcher like that on the ropes, a six-pitch inning is a bad inning.
“I don’t know if he comes back out if we put 10 or 12 pitches on him, I’m not sure,” Girardi said. “He’s a guy that, you see him throw 120, 125, but I thought possibly that sixth inning was going to be his last inning, but we made some quick outs.”
Here’s Derek Jeter talking a little bit about the approach against Weaver and some other bits of tonight’s game.
• Jeter on his 15-pitch at-bat to start the game: “It was a while. I don’t know how many pitches it was, but it was probably the longest I’ve been up there. I’m not known for being up there too long.” Just a few seconds later, with a straight face, Jeter began explaining that his entire approach tonight was to foul off as many pitches as possible. He was kidding.
• After Jeter flied out to end that opening at-bat, he clearly communicated a little bit with Weaver as he ran off the field. “It was just more of a gesture,” Jeter said. “I’ve known him since he was a teenager, so it was all in good fun.”
• Tonight was a step in the right direction for Ivan Nova. He looked awful in the first inning — erratic, hit hard, gave up two runs — but he settled in a little bit. I still thought, in the fourth inning, that his night wouldn’t last very long, but he gave the Yankees a solid start, much better than last time. “I threw more strikes today,” Nova said. “And I was more aggressive.”
• The line drive back to the mound hit Nova at the very bottom of his glove hand, and pretty much hit all glove. Nova said he’s fine. “I just see the ball right at my face and react,” he said.
• Turns out to be significant that Jorge Posada’s fourth-inning double bounced over the wall. If that weren’t a ground rule double, Nick Swisher almost certainly would have scored and extra run.
• Boone Logan was brought in to face a switch hitter tonight. He got two strikes, but he couldn’t put Alberto Callaspo away, giving up a single. “I just thought he missed his spot with that pitch,” Girardi said. “With two strikes, hitters sometimes shorten up a little bit and take a little bit different approach, and you got to be able to make the pitch.”
• The first-inning passed ball was just a fastball that got away from Russell Martin. Nova said they were not crossed up on that pitch.
• The Angels announced that Ervin Santana has been bumped up one day and will start Saturday in place of Dan Haren. Joel Pineiro will start Sunday’s game in place of Santana.
• Jeter was asked if it’s starting to feel like the Yankees are facing one ace after another. “Even if you’re facing guys that may not be big-name pitchers,” he said, “they still seem to get up for us and throw the ball well.”
• Just to be sure, I double checked with CC Sabathia: He didn’t bounce his ceremonial Little League first pitch on Wednesday. Actually, he threw two of them, one to the starting catcher of each team.
• Kind of a tradition here in Anaheim, the team was showing the “Kiss Cam” on the big screen, encouraging couples in the stands to kiss on camera. Finally, the camera cut to a shot of Lance Pendleton sitting next to Dave Robertson in the bullpen. Pendleton leaned in for the kiss. Pretty hilarious.
Associated Press photos