If I told you that the Yanks would win a game in Anaheim with Jerry Hairston, Jr., Shelley Duncan, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner and Jose Molina all in the same lineup, would you believe me? What if I told you that Damaso Marte, Jonathan Albaladejo, Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy would be called upon to get a combined seven outs in the middle of the affair? What if I added that the Yanks hadn’t won a series in Anaheim since May 2004?
In a turn of events sure to confound those fans who are convinced that the Yankees can’t win a game in Angels Stadium, the Bombers’ C lineup and their C bullpen corps downed the Angels today 3-2. Robinson Cano, struggling all year with runners in scoring position, came through with a huge hit, and A.J. Burnett struck out 11 in 5.2 strong innings of work. Ian Kennedy gave us all a heart attack but held down the eighth in his return to the Majors. With their victory, the Yanks saw their Magic Number drop to 5 and their lead above the Red Sox increase to a temporary 6.5.
For the first few innings, the Scott Kazmir/A.J. Burnett pitching duel lived up to its billing. While the Angels left a man on base in every inning of the game, Burnett had the K pitch working this afternoon. He was sitting between 95 and 97 for most of the game and recorded 11 of his 17 outs by the strike out. With that stuff, the runners on base won’t score.
The Yankees broke through first, finally getting to Kazmir in fourth. While Jerry Hairston, Jr., struck out, Mark Teixeira doubled, and Hideki Matsui walked. Shelley Duncan lined a single just over Chone Figgins’ glove to left, and because Teixeira started back to second when it seemed as though Figgins would make the play, Juan Rivera gunned him down at the plate. With two outs, Robinson Cano and his struggles with runners in scoring position came to the plate, he lined a two-out, two-run single to left and advanced on the throw. Melky Cabrera would drive Cano in with a double, and those three runs would be all the Yanks would need.
In the bottom of the fifth, Burnett ran into a spot of trouble. Mike Napoli singled, and Chone Figgins doubled. With two on and no one out, Burnett bore down. He struck out Erick Aybar, and Robinson Cano ranged far to his left to snare a Bobby Abreu ground ball. A run would score, but Burnett pitched out of the inning.
In the sixth, the bullpen would take over. After Burnett allowed another run to score, Damaso Marte retired Figgins. An inning later, Jonathan Albaladejo would take over, but his stay was short-lived. After a double, Phil Coke came in and struck out Kendry Morales. Coke has lost seven pounds over the last two days with a bad stomach bug, but he got a huge out with the tying run in scoring position.
One of the stories of the game around in the 8th. With Al Aceves and Phil Hughes unavailable and Brian Bruney in the dog house, Ian Kennedy came in for his return to the Bigs after aneurysm surgery. He seemed nervous and struggled with his control, loading the bases on a hit by pitch and two walks. But he pitched around it. He got the first out when Juan Rivera lined to Ramiro Peña at third and struck out Maicer Izturis with two on. With the bases loaded, Erick Aybar flew out to Shelley Duncan. Threat over.
In the 9th, Rivera nailed down the game, and all was right with the Yanks. A.J. had another strong start, and Joe will look at his resurgence in the morning. The Yanks knocked another game off the Magic Number counter and have now won three of their last four against Anaheim. The Yanks are sitting pretty.
Hairston Injury Update
Jerry Hairston left the game in the 7th when he felt his wrist pop, and PeteAbe speculates that Hairston’s injury could be serious. Apparently, Hairston first injured his wrist while with the Reds and received an MRI and cortisone shot ten days ago. He will have another scan tomorrow. I wouldn’t expect much from him for the rest of the year, but then again, I wasn’t really expecting much from him anyway.
Feel free to make this an Open Thread. Talk about the game. Talk about Kennedy for the 8th. Talk about the long wait until the Friday night game against the Red Sox. Just play nice.