"We need to clean up some of the stuff that we do," [Yankee manager, Joe] Torre said. "We've played better than this. And tonight we started to get into it at the end of the game, and I thought we played with a little more confidence. But I think we've been a little hesitant over the last few days."
(Michael Morrissey, N.Y. Post)
"They have a great offense and you're not going to go through a game without getting into a situation or two," [Angels' starter, John] Lackey said. "I was able to minimize the damage and give us a chance to win. If you want to be a playoff team you have to figure out how to win games like that."
(Doug Padilla, L.A. Daily News)
After Jason Giambi ran through a stop-sign and was thrown out at the plate in the second inning, Jeter launched a two-run homer to dead center in the third. The score remained the same until the top of the seventh inning. Randy Johnson, who recorded the 4,500th strike out of his career in the fourth when he K'd Tim Salmon, was pitching well for the second-straight game. He allowed a one-out double to Jose Molina and then with two outs, the ever-pesky Chone Figgins slapped a slider that was low and out of the strike zone into center for an RBI single. Not a bad pitch by Johnson, who then left a fastball over the plate (it too was out-of-the-strike zone) to Howie Kendrick. The Angels' impressive young second baseman lofted a fly ball to deep right center. It hit off the wall, missing a home run by a few feet, good for an RBI double and the game was tied. Orlando Cabrera followed and hit a ground ball to Robinson Cano's backhand. The Yankee second basemen almost tripped over his feet on the lip of the outfield grass, but maintained his balanced and made the throw to first for the third out.
Johnny Damon led off the bottom of the seventh and blooped a single into left field. It came off a hanging breaking pitch--Lackey's curve ball repeatedly got him into trouble. Jeter then placed a beautiful bunt down the third base line, which he beat out for a single. Next, Joe Torre called for Bobby Abreu to bunt. (R'uh Oh.) Abreu had not laid down a successful sacrifice bunt since July 19, 1998, but on the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he tapped the ball towards third and almost beat the throw to first.
Giambi was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Rodriguez, who fouled off Lackey's first pitch (a fastball right down the c**k, as the old timer's like to say). Sitting at home, I let out a yell. That pitch was right there for him and he just missed it, aaarrggggh. Three pitches later, with the count 1-2, Rodriguez lined a fastball into the right field corner. For a moment, you had to think it might sneak over the wall for a dinger. But it didn't have the height and Vlad Guerrero made a nice catch with his back to the wall. Regardless, Damon tagged and scored and the Yanks had a lead that they would not relinquish.
Kyle Farnsworth threw smoke in the eighth and retired the Halos in order. Posada, who had been 0-for-his-last-25 coming into the game, lined Brendan Donnelly's first pitch into the right field seats to start the bottom of the eighth. The Yanks tacked-on three more runs before all was said and done (Vlad uncorked a hellacious peg on Giambi's sac fly which came close to nailing Damon at the plate--it had a little too much air perhaps, but displayed the power in Guerrero's arm all the same).
Rodriguez was given a gift single and RBI to end the scoring. With runners on the corners, it looked as if reliever J.C. Romero was going to pitch around Rodriguez. Perhaps Rodriguez thought so as well. Why else would he take a 3-1 fastball right over the plate? The Yankee third baseman then lunged at the pay-off pitch, a change-up that was off-the-plate. He tapped a ground ball to short to cap a poor at bat. But Orlando Cabrera misplayed the ball, a run scored, and somehow Rodriguez was rewarded. Hey, he'll take 'em where he can get 'em.
A good win for the Bombers and a nice way to start the week. The Yanks split the series with their west coast nemesis who are now five-and-a-half games behind the A's.