In the dugout before Sunday's game, Kim Jones, the beat reporter for the YES network, asked Yankee manager Joe Torre if Jared Weaver made him of think of Weaver's older brother and former-Yankee, Jeff Weaver. "It's hard not to," said Torre. "He's got the same look, the same willowy body. He looks like a clone [of his brother]." Torre said that he had not seen the young Weaver pitchexcept for a few highlights on TVbut admitted, "He seems like the real thing."
Weaver was the real thing on Sunday afternoon, mixing a nasty curve ball with a strong fastball. The Yankees made him work but Weaver showed resolve and poise. He was not afraid to pitch inside and even when he was behind in the count, he didn't lose his cool. The only mistake he made in six innings of work was when he dipped-down and tried to sneak a fastball past Craig Wilson in the fifth. He had previously made Wilson look foolish with a breaking pitch away, and the drop-down was the kind of cutesy move that his brother has specialized in. Otherwise, there wasn't any resemblance to Jeff, other than physically.
Like his brother, Jered is long and lean. But his motion is slightly different. Jered twists his back, with his number facing the batter, in a manner than is reminiscent of Hideo Nomo. He made Alex Rodriguezwho had another less than stellar day in the fieldlook bad in three at bats. For his part, Chien-Ming Wang was flat for the second-straight outing, giving up six hits and three runs in the first inning alone.
The Angels bullpen was its usual stellar self and they set the Yankees down like lambs until Rodriguez blasted his 25th dinger of the year with two men out in the bottom of the ninth. Jason Giambi followed with a solo shot of his own, just to the right of the 399 ft sign in left center, but that was it as the Angels bounced the Bombers, 5-3 in front of a sellout crowd in the Big House.
Man, that was a heck of a way to sperl a wonderful day in New York, particularly with Boston, Minnie and Chicago all leading their games as the Yankee game ended. The Yanks will likely be just a game ahead of Boston in a few hours (and here I thought, just listening to the noise coming out of Boston this past week, that the Red Sox were dead). But then again, the Yankees are accustomed to hellish games against the Halos. And tomorrow night they get to face L.A.'s ace, John Lackey.
Opening line ups. "At 12:50, they love Alex Rodriguez. At 1:30, he's a bum," someone nearby says. 1:01 "Good Day Sunshine" blares over the loudspeakers as a cool breeze sweeps throughout the Stadium.
Chone Figgins blasts Chien-Ming Wang's second pitch of the day into the right center field bleachers for his sixth home run of the year. Oy, what a way to start the game. Then Alex Rodriguez can't hang onto a three-hopper to his left, and Howie Kendrick reaches first on what is scored a base hit. "Even Scott Boras would have scored that an error," says someone sitting in front of me.
The Angels hit and run, and Orlando Cabrera gets fisted but manages to put a ground ball right where Robinson Cano was standing a moment earlier. The ball trickles into right, Hendrick takes third and there are runners on the corners with nobody out for Vlad. Guerrero takes a ball and then taps a grounder in front of the mound, Hendrick charging home. Wang flips the ball home and Kendrick is called out, though replays show that he was safe. The Yankees get a break.
Juan Rivera lines the second pitch he sees into right for a clean single and Cabrera scores, giving the Angels a fast 2-0 lead. Wang falls behind another hitter, Adam Kennedy. This time 2-0. Kennedy fouls off the next three pitches before grounding a sharp single "past a diving Jeter." Vlad scores, 3-0. Robb Quinlan takes a sinker low and away for a ball, then fouls a pitch back. With the runners moving, Quinlan taps a little grounder to Wang's left, but the pitcher can't handle the throw and everyone is safe.
Curtis Pride looks at a ball low and outside for a ball. Then takes a sinker low, and a fastball up, 3-0. Finally a strike and finally something for the fans to cheer about. Pride ground the next pitch directly at Cano who turns the 4-6-3 double play to save Wang's bacon for the moment anyway.
Jered Weaver shakes his right arm as Johnny Damon steps in the box and writes something with his right finger in the back of the mound. His first pitch is a strike. Weaver is gangly like his brother, but he turns his back more, almost like Hideo Nomo, which makes it difficult for the batter to pick up his arm speed. Weaver strikes Damon out looking for the first out, on something low, diving away. I can only imagine how he'll be for the righties.
Jeter fouls the first pitch back. Then ducks out of the way of a high hard one, just under his elbow. Weaver overthrows the next pitch low and away. Then something soft for a strike on the outside corner. Nicely done. He goes to the same pitch again, this one is a little further outside and the count is full. Jeter holds his hand back and calls for time and then Weaver walks him.
Abreu takes a fastball high for a ball. Will Jeter run? He takes a decent lead as Weaver comes back with a strike, followed by a couple of throws over to first. Slider, diving in, Abreu checks his swing, but it is called strike two. Then a breaking pitch inside for a ball, 2-2. Abreu checks his swing at the next pitch, just outside, and gets the call: full count. Jeter runs and the payoff pitch gets Abreu swinging. The throw is late and Jeter has his 26th stolen base of the year.
The first pitch to Alex Rodriguez is in the dirt for a ball. Then an overhand curve, outside for ball two and a sinker low for ball three before pouring over a fastball for strike one. A Rod waves at a breaking pitch and the crowd exclaims, "Aaaaaaoowww." He whiffs on something hard and low and the boos returnnot pronounced but there all the same. That is a confident bit of pitching. Weaver fell behind and didn't even blink.
This could be the beginning of a long day.
Wang starts off Mike Napoli the second and strikes out on three pitches. Figgins squares to bunt and takes a strike. Figgins grounds the third pitch to Wilson. 3-U. Hendricks slaps the first pitch he sees to Jeter, whose throws pulls Wilson off the bag, but the tag is made and boom, an easy inning.
Giambi fouls the first pitch back then takes one low for a ball. Weaver comes with the curve, called strike two. Then a fastball up and in, before losing a ball, low and away. The full count pitch is fouled off to the left side. Then Giambi gets jammed inside and nubs and worm burner to short. Beats it out for a hit. Hey, some luck against this kid wouldn't hurt, eh?
Posada waves at a curve for strike one. Then fouls the next pitch off. Fastball, upstairs, ball one. Foul, off to the left side. Ball, outside, 2-2. Another foul. A slider, low and in almost hits Posada in the foot, full-count. How about another curve here? Or the heater. Hmmm. Weavaer brings the heat and Jorge fouls it into the catcher's mitt. Weaver's fourth K of the game.
Cano takes a fastball for a strike on the outside corner. And then another. Cano walks away in disgust as the crowd groans. Here comes the soft stuff. Nope, another fastball. Cano grounds the ball to second and the Angels turn an easy 4-6-3 double play.
Orlando Cabrera slaps a single past a diving Rodriguez. Just past. A Rod is just a fraction slow on everything at third. It's as if he's waterlogged. To be fair, the ball was hit hard, and it was by no means, an error, but I can't recall Rodriguez making many of those plays this year at all.
Vlad rockets the first pitch up the middle for a single. Runners on first and second, nobody out for Juan Rivera. First pitch is waved at for a strike and then taps the second pitch foul down toward third base. The next pitch is hit directly at Jeter, smooth, no skips or hops. Jeter fields the ball and turns the double play himself.
Adam Kennedy swings at the first pitch and fouls the ball against the screen of the visitor's dugout. Takes the next pitch for a called strike and then waves at the third pitch for strike three. Nice job by Wang to get out of it without a scar.
First pitch to Craig Wilson is low and away for a ball. Wilson then pulls a slider, also away, to third, 5-3 one out.
Melky squares to bunt and takes a fastball, high and outside for a ball. Another heater, upstairs, 2-0. Then a soft one, a curve, on the outside corner for a strike. Followed by a bigger curve, more arc. Melky whiffs, 2-2. Another curve, inside, and Melky fouls it back. Weaver working quickly, JUST misses a pee at the knees. Comes back inside with a heater, Meklky fouls it back. Curve ball, and Melky is frozen like a Tuscan Pop. Strike Three. Take your seat, son.
Curve, inside, strike one to Damon. Fastball, outside, just misses. Another one, high and away, Damon, offers, but holds his swing, 2-1 and then takes a slider inside for ball three. The next pitch splits Damon's bat as he lines a foul into the field box seats down the first base line. Again, inside, another foul. Comes inside, this time Damon is ready, but he's out in front and rips a line drive foul. Best hit ball of the day for the Yanks. Emergency swing, and another foul. Damon stays alive. Where is the curve? Fastball, low and outside, JUST misses and Damon has a walk. It was Weaver's 61st pitch of the day.
Jeter steps in and Weaver throws over to first. Breaking pitch, low and away, ball one to Jetes. Low and inside, ball two. Cabrera comes in and talks with Weaver, the P.A. prompts the crowd to get loud. Jeter swings through a high fastball, strike one. Weaver throws back to first. Damon bluffs and Weaver's fastball is high, 3-1. Fastball at the knees, in there for strike two. Jeter started to move to first as if he'd drawn a walk. Tough stuff from Weaver. Damon goes, but the pitch, a breaking ball, is low and away for ball four.
Bud Black jogs to the mound. The catcher and third baseman join him as Bobby Abreu's themea Salsa tuneplays. More amping up by the P.A. "Make Some Noise." First pitch to Abreu is inside for a ball. Then an overhand curve falls in for a strike. Abreu lines the next pitch into right. Juan Rivera makes a nice shoe-string catch for the third out.
Quinian lines out to Abreu. Bobby didn't need to dive but he bent over. The ball was well-struck. Curtis Pride whiffs. The Orioles have an early 1-0 lead in Boston. Mike Napoli flies out to right.
A Rod checks his swing at a curve ball on the outside corner for a ball then takes a fastball (inside) for a strike. Fastball, misses away, 2-1. Then a foul in the press box followed a fastball, called strike three.
Giambi skies the first pitch to deep left. Caught at the wall.
Posada fouls the first pitch off, swings through a curve, and then fouls off a fastball (late). Curve ball misses, the catcher and Weaver walk towards the dugout. Emergency swing, foul. Pee and the knees, strike three.
Figgins lines a single off A Rod's glove. This one was legit. What are the chances this sombitch comes around to score?
Ball one to Hendrick. Fastball, inside for a strike, 1-1. A strike on the outside corner, 1-2. Boston now up 4-1. Foul. Slow ground ball to A Rod's left. Too slow to turn two. A Rod guns it to first for out number one.
Orlando Cabrera lays down a bunt, but it goes foul, strike one. Strike on the outside corner. Figgins bluffs to third, and Cabrera lines out softly to Jeter.
Vladi, Dadi. He ain't even gunna get a chance. Then walk him on four pitches.
Juan Rivera takes a pitch low and inside for ball one. Then next one is way high for a ball. Followed by a strike over the plate, taken. Foul ball to off third base. The crowd now starts to get noisy. It's polite noise though. Runners go, and the pitch is just outside. Double steal, no throw as Posada was concerned with framing the pitch. Full-count. Crowd clapping. Whistling. Rivera lines a single into left. Figgins scores, Rivera rounds first too wide and is hung up. Rodriguez starts towards him and he dives back into first in time. 4-0.
Adam Kennedy takes a ball. Then looks at strike before nailing a line drive to right. The ball is snared by Craig Wilson and the Yanks are spared.
Robinson Cano grounds the first pitch weakly to second, one out. It was Weaver's 84th of the game. Ball one to Wilson, followed by a fastball strike. And then a nasty curve, taken for strike two. "No way this guy touches the ball here," I say to my neighbor. Fastball inside and Wilson pops it out to left for a solo dinger.
Melky takes a ball outside. Then hacks at one away, 1-1. Curve, inside 2-1. Melky gets good wood on the ball, and lines a ball to the gap in left center. But it has plenty of hang time and Melky is retired for the second out.
Damon takes a fastball strike on the outside corner. Then fouls back the next pitch. Curve ball away, Damon waves at it. Strike Three. Weaver: 94 pitches.
Angels 4, Yanks 1.
This is a crucial inning for Wang. Rob Quinian bloops a single into right. Drat. Now, Pride must for to hit into another double play, please. Fastball, inside, ball one. Pride smacks one back to Wang, who hesitates for a moment. Throws to second for one, but Pride beats the relay. Could be a costly mistake.
Wang throws to first twice. His first pitch to Mike Napoli is high for a ball. Another throw to first, Pride dives back in safely. The next pitch is fouled back into the screen. Napoli swings through the next pitch, 1-2. White Sox up 4-1. Now, all of a sudden the Tigers can't win? What gives. Another throw to first, gets away from Wilson, but only a few feet and Pride sits still. Fastball, high, 2-2. Slider, away, and the count is full. Now, Pride will be moving The O's tied the Sox, 4-4 Low, ball four. Garbage.
Ron Guidry sprints out to the mound for a brief chat with Wang.
Here's the man Figgins again. Low, ball one. Line drive off Wilson's glove, rolls into right and the bases are once again loaded.
Ron Villone is up in the pen.
Hendrick takes the first pitch low and away for ball one. Breaks his bat and dunks the next pitch into left for an RBI single. 5-1. That's it for Wang, who exits to a nice hand.
First pitch to Cabrera is a fastball, called strike one. The next pitch is way outside for a ball. Swing and miss, strike two. Fastball, up and away, whiff, strike three.
Vlad leans out of the way of the first pitch, way inside for a ball. What do you think? Grand Slam? Nope, Vlad gets under a pitch and flies out to left.
Should be Weaver's last inning. Fasball, low ball one to Jeter. Check swing, strike. Low, ball two, 2-1. Yanks need base runners here Checks his swing again, and another strike. Jeter is pissed but he went for sure. Fastball slapped up the middle. Ball takes a high hop, over Cabrera's outstretched glove. Single.
Abreu swings and misses at the first pitch? He swings at the first pitch. That's only the third time I've seen him doing that since he's been in New York. J.C. Romero and Donnelly are warming up. Abreu grounds the next pitch to first, goes to second for one out but Abreu beats the relay.
A Rod swings and misses at the first pitch. A smattering of boos can be heard throughout the Stadium. He bounces the next pitch to third. The boos shower down by the time the ball gets to second. 5-4-3 double play. "A Rod was always a Yankee-killer," somebody says.
No soup for the Yanks.
Juan Rivera lines out to Melky. Cabrera has to dive and makes a good catch. Adam Kennedy works the count full and then draws a walk. Villone falls behind Rob Quinian, 2-0, then 3-1. Villone picks Kennedy off. Wilson to Jeter for the second out. Full-count pitch to Quinlan is in there for a strike. Quinlan thought differently.
Brendan Donnelly gets ahead of Giambi 2-3. Giambi fouling off pitches and getting good hacks before getting way under a ball and skying out to right.
Posada takes a ball and then fouls a pitch off to the left side. 3:35 p.m. Another sky job to shallow left. Two outs. "Let's Go Yan-Kees" chant. Cano looks at a ball, low. Then a fastball for a strike, 1-1. The chant quiets down. Another chant, now from the upper deck. Fastball, outside, 2-1. Cano swings through a fastball, 2-2. A lull. The crowd is quiet. Cano gets under the ball and flys out to the wall in right.
Villone is still in there. The Red Sox are up 6-4. Shaping into some hell of a Sunday here in New York for the Yanks. 54,309 paid attendance.
Curtis Pride flies out to center. Mike Napoli whiffs. Chone Figgins walks and Villone's day is done.
Jose Veras in to face Howie Kendrick. The Red Sox now lead, 7-4. Throw to first, and Figgins dives back in time. Veras taking forever to get the sign. Finally steps off. Curve ball, Kendrick backs out of the way like it is a bee trying to sting him. Strike one. Figgins inching off, Veras taking forever. Jeter comes in and has a word with Veras. As in, worry about the hitter not Figgins, ya big lug. Fastball, low and away. Something off-speed maybe, strike two. Figgins goes, Kendrick bloops a single in front of Melky in left, Figgins takes third.
Orlando Cabrera: Ball one, strike one, strike two, throw to first (Kendrick back safely), clapping in the Stadium, runner goes, foul, Sox up 7-4, runner goes again, line drive foul (look out), step-off-third-fake-to-first ("throw the fucking ball," someone yells), runner goes, curve ball swung-on and missed, strike three.
Enter Scot Shields.
Craig Wilson is jammed on the first pitch and fouls it off. Fastball, upstairs, 1-1. Fastball on the outside corner, 1-2. Weak tapper to the mound. Shields handles it, one out.
Melky takes a strike. Then swings through a pitch in the dirt. Another breaking pitch, just misses, ball one. Then he pops a fly ball to short left. Two out.
Johnny Damon: strike one, foul ball, Sox 7-5, ball one, ball two, strike three (looking).
Vlad: foul (huge cut), foul (another big cut), foul, ball, foul, Red Sox 7-6, ball, ball, crowd getting really quiet, foul, Mets win (what's new?), line drive base hit through the right side.
Juan Rivera: Curve, way high, ball one, foul, foul, ball, Vlad caught stealing (and it wasn't even close), foul, foul, foul, foul, ball, fly out to right field.
Twins up, White Sox up, Red Sox up c'mmmmmon.
Adam Kennedy: Ball, fly out to left.
Bottom of the Ninth
The crowd gets into it
DJ: Ball, foul, called strike two, outside, ball two, called strike three, Jeter argues, the frustration boiling over.
Abreu: Called strike, ball, strike, ball, check swing, ball two, swing and a miss, strike three.
A Rod: Mix of boos and cheers. Line drive home run to left on the first pitch. Cheers. But the skeptics chortle.
Giambi: Foul, ball, deep fly, just to the right of the 399 sign. More cheers, no skeptics.
Out goes Shields, in comes K-Rod.
Posada: Fastball high, crowd is up and making noise, foul, high and away, ball two, fly out to left. Three hours and nine minutes.
And yet another Dogshit day for the Yanks against the Angels. Cue Liza.