After the way that the game had been going for the Yankees, it seemed fitting that Alex Rodriguez was up with the bases loaded and a chance to give his team a dramatic walkoff win. A-Rod had homered earlier in the game, ending a homerless drought that lasted 49 at-bats, but he popped out with the game on the line, giving the Angels a 10-8 win on Sunday.
“What an awesome situation to come up in, I just came up a little short,” Rodriguez said. “The guys battled for nine innings, and we won a good series. That’s the objective.”
The Yankees did take two of three from the Angels, and fought back to put themselves in a position to sweep today. The pitching was not good, but this team has shown an undeniable knack for making comebacks. After all, they lead the majors with 29 come-from-behind wins.
“That’s how you win games and come from behind,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate, but we were one hit away.”
• Much of the chatter before the game was about the drop in A-Rod’s numbers when he plays third base, as opposed to DHing, but he swung the bat pretty well today while playing in the field. His first inning swing was one of his best of the season, as he stayed back and drove a ball off of Jered Weaver with authority over the right-center field wall. “I took some great swings and felt good about them,” A-Rod said.
• In total, the Yankees hit four home runs. Curtis Granderson, Eric Chavez and Mark Teixeira all went deep.
• As good as the Yankees offense was at times today, they also made some critical mistakes — particularly in the third inning. After back-to-back singles from A-Rod and Robinson Cano put runners on the corners with one out, Cano got caught sleeping at first base. While he was stuck in a rundown, A-Rod made the poor decision to bolt for home. Both were tagged out, leaving Teixeira stuck with the bat in his hands. “We had some bad reads is what we had, and that’s going to happen,” Girardi said. “It was guys being aggressive, and I don’t mind them being aggressive, but sometimes they’re going to make mistakes. That’s the human part of the game.”
• Yankees starter Ivan Nova clearly didn’t have it from the get-go today. He gave up back-to-back homers to Erick Aybar and Albert Pujols in the first, and labored throughout the game. He gave up six runs and nine hits in 6+ innings to drop to 10-4 on the season. Nova said he couldn’t command his fastball. Girardi said he didn’t have any of his secondary pitches working today. Nova summed it up pretty well. “I didn’t have my good stuff today,” he said.
• Nova’s outing could have been even worse if not for a tremendous defensive play from Granderson in the third. Rookie sensation Mike Trout — who seems to get more impressive with each passing game — blasted a ball to deep centerfield. If it wasn’t going to go out, it looked like a sure extra-base hit. But Granderson put on the burners and tracked it down just before hitting the wall, making one of the best over-the-shoulder catches you’ll ever see. He really has been awesome defensively since coming to the Yanks, and always seems to get great jumps. “I was at my normal depth that I like to play,” Granderson said. “By the time I was able to look up, I saw that I still had some room, and I was able to reel it in. As I’m putting my head down and running back to it, I kind of know where the fence is. … This wall in particular is probably the hardest one in all of baseball because there’s just concrete behind it.”
• Nova was eventually pulled before an out had been recorded in the seventh, giving way to Chad Qualls. Qualls was not very effective, either, surrendering three runs in the eighth to allow the Angels to take a 9-5 lead. “I had used Cody (Eppley) for two innings the day before and had used (David) Robertson,” Girardi said. “If it’s tied, we go to Robby there, but because we were losing and (Qualls) did a pretty good job the inning before for us to get the double play, I stuck with him.”
• Prior to A-Rod’s pop out to end the game, Granderson worked a great eight-pitch at-bat against reliever Scott Downs to draw a walk and drive in the eighth run. “Downs has always had really good success against me,” Granderson said. “He’s a hard guy to pick up, even talking to the right-handers, because his ball has so much depth to it and his offspeed stuff keeps you off balance. The main thing was try to get something up in the zone and put it in play.”
• Cano had two hits on the day, extending his hitting streak to 18 games to match his career-high.
• Girardi didn’t have much of an update on either Andy Pettitte or Brett Gardner. Pettitte was scheduled to have an X-ray, but Girardi said he hadn’t heard anything yet. He said Gardner had four at-bats in a simulated game, but said they won’t know for a couple of days whether or not he can continue along in the rehab process.
• Here’s Angels manager Mike Scioscia on the stressful ninth inning: “When you’re playing against deep lineups, you’re looking for every run you can get and you use as many bullpen guys to match up even though you have what may be considered a safe lead. Those guys aren’t going to quit playing and we walked four guys in the ninth inning. We loaded the gun for them, and they almost pulled the trigger.”
Associated Press photos