If ever there were a game that called for Rafael Soriano, Dave Robertson and Mariano Rivera, this was it. The Yankees had taken a one-run lead in the sixth, they badly needed a win heading into tomorrow’s off day, and the Angels surging offense hadn’t gone down quietly all series. This was a time to slam the door shut.
A picked apart bullpen got it down.
“It’s the difference in the game, what our bullpen did,” Joe Girardi said.
Without Robertson or Rivera, Cory Wade redeemed himself for Monday’s walk off and Rafael Soriano got the series’ hottest hitter to fly out with the winning run on base. As Russell Martin said, “It’s not the most stress-free win.” But it’s a win.
“Being in the situation of guys getting hurt, I’m just ready any time,” Wade said. “It doesn’t matter when I pitch. Getting outs is getting outs, whether it’s the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, it doesn’t matter. My job is to get outs, and that’s the whole job of the bullpen.”
Wade had coughed up Mark Trumbo’s walk-off on Monday, and after Boone Logan had a surprisingly rough outing — two singles to put the go ahead run at third with two outs in the seventh — Wade’s chance for redemption came against Howie Kendrick. Wade fell behind 3-0 and got some advice from Alex Rodriguez, who came to the mound.
“He just told me don’t do anything stupid,” Wade said. “It’s 3-0, we’ve got a base there. Don’t do anything dumb. You’ve got to in that situation. You can’t do anything stupid. He’s a good hitter, and you’ve got to weave your way out of the situation without giving him anything to hit. Hopefully he can get himself out.”
Wade got him swinging at a curveball, then he pitched a 1-2-3 eight to give the ball to Soriano. A walk and an infield single put the winning run on base, but Soriano pitched through it with a ground ball and a routine fly.
“Today’s a new day and everybody sticks together and feels good,” Soriano said. “Make a good pitch and get a good swing and see what happens. Tonight, get the win.”
• For the Yankees, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson went deep in a five-run third. For the Angels, Trumbo homered and Mike Trout had a two-run double in a four-run fourth. Other than that, this high-scoring game was really all about pitching. “We got them all really in one inning, is what we did,” Girardi said. “Nice at-bat by Grandy to work the count and finally get a fastball to hit the three-run homer, then Robbie Cano to hit the two-run homer. You take that inning away and you take Nova’s bad inning away, we might still be playing.”
• Ivan Nova got the win, but he wasn’t happy with his outing, saying flatly, “I’m not pitching good right now.” Russell Martin seemed to have a more in-depth analysis: “Nova had really good life on his fastball, but his secondary pitches seemed like he didn’t have the best feel for his curveball today,” Martin said. “We tried to mix it in there, get some first-pitch curveballs, but he just didn’t seem to have the feel for it. Just a little bit inconsistent. But for the most part he battled. Even without his best stuff, I feel like he gave us a good chance.”
• Martin blamed himself for the Trout double. He said he should have called slider instead of fastball. “Ended up calling more first-pitch sliders after that at-bat and it worked out for him,” Martin said. “Mark that one down in the notes there.”
• After tonight’s infield single, Albert Pujols is 5-for-5 with two doubles and a home run against Soriano. “I’ve got to talk to him,” Soriano said. “You have to let me sometime (get an out), because every time he hits a good pitch or something. I’ve got to talk to him. I’ll send a text message tonight and say, ‘Hey, let me, one time. Not every day, but one time because I have family too, and they have to eat.’ Every time. I do it at home, I throw a slider away and base hit. Tonight, same, ground ball, base hit. It’s like, come on Pujols. One time.”
• Girardi on Pujols’ numbers against Soriano: “You can look at that two ways. You can look at it as he’s due to get him out or you can say that he’s had some success off of him. I tried to look at it as he was due to get him out.”
• Martin took a ball to the throat tonight, but he said he was fine. He even joked that it was exactly what he needed to get rid of some of the neck stiffness he’s been dealing with lately. “I was happy,” he said, dripping with sarcasm. “I like getting hit in the neck.”
• Martin had more to say about home plate umpire Laz Diaz, who apparently wouldn’t let Martin throw new balls back to the pitcher after a ball was hit out of play. “He said that it was a privilege that I had to earn, for me to throw the ball back, because we kinda got into it with balls and strikes or whatever,” Martin said. He went on to call Diaz a name that can’t be printed in this space.
• The Angels speedy outfield had been causing problems for the Yankees all week, especially on Tuesday, but tonight, the Angels speed might have hurt them. The biggest hit of the game was Raul Ibanez’s triple just out of the reach of center fielder Peter Bourjos. It bounced off the wall, rolled away from Bourjos, and Ibanez scored on a sac fly. “If you have a slower center fielder, he might pull up,” Girardi said. “He was pretty close to getting it, and we ended up getting the triple, so in the one instance, it might have cost them.”
• Big play by Derek Jeter to keep Pujols’ infield single from getting into center field. If it had gotten into the outfield, the lead runner probably would have made it to third with one out, which woudl have changed that inning significantly.
• Nova has won 10 straight starts on the road, tying Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte for the longest such streak by a Yankees pitcher since 1995. He hasn’t lose on the road in 13 starts since June 20 of last year.
• The Yankees are now tied with Texas for the most home runs in the Majors.
Associated Press photos