Magic Number drops, but Yanks fall short in Anaheim


When Robinson Cano came to the plate representing the tying run, for a second I believed that the Yanks’ second baseman would come through. He took a pitch for a ball, took another for a strike and then hacked weakly at an outside slider, pulling it to Kendry Morales for the final out of a 5-2 Angels victory. For the Yankees, it was another loss to the Angels, one complete with early-inning bad luck and some poor managerial decisions.

Before we delve too far into this one, though, we should acknowledge that the Yanks’ Magic Number to clinch dropped to a Yogi-like 8 tonight. While the Royals found themselves at the wrong end of an early 6-0 deficit, they rallied against Tim Wakefield, Manny Delcarmen and closer-of-the-future Daniel Bard to down the Red Sox 12-9. Zack Greinke faces Paul Byrd tomorrow evening.

For the Yankees, the game started off on a promising note. Similar to Sunday, Derek Jeter singled to get the party started. For reasons unknown, Robb Quinlan wasn’t holding Jeter on, and while Johnny Damon scorched the ball down the first base line, Quinlan nabbed it on a dive. Had he been holding Jeter on, the Yanks would have had second and third with no one out.

With a runner on first and one out, Mark Teixeira blasted a ball down the third base line, but Chone Figgins had other ideas. The Angels’ pesky third baseman made a diving stop, and while he didn’t record an out, he stopped what could have been an RBI double. The Yanks had two scorched balls, but nothing to show for it. It would be that kind of night.

Making his first start after an extended rest brought about by shoulder fatigue, Andy Pettitte wasn’t sharp in the first inning. With two outs, back-to-back-to-back hits gave the Angels a two-run lead. After that, Pettitte rolled. He gave up a run on a few hits in the bottom of the 5th, but his final line was more than we expected. He went 6 innings and gave up 3 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. He will pitch again against the Red Sox this weekend, and how he responds to regular rest will be quite important for the Yanks’ playoff hopes.

In fact, the third run probably shouldn’t have scored. With an out in the 5th, a Chone Figgins flyball split Melky Cabrea and Johnny Damon. Damon called off his center fielder, and Robb Quinlan advanced on the weak-armed Damon. Had Cabrera caught that ball, Quinlan probably stays at third.

Meanwhile, the Yanks scuffled against Saunders. They drew no walks and eked out just 7 hits. Their runs came on solo shots by A-Rod and a pinch-hitting Hideki Matsui. While Nick Swisher drilled one to the wall in the 9th, the air in Anaheim wasn’t carrying, and a late-game rally fell short.

But while we have to tip our cap to Joe Saunders, what was quite curious were a few managerial decisions by Joe Girardi. First, he opted to rest Hideki Matsui, a very good hitter against left-handed pitchers, in favor of a right-handed lineup. That strategy clearly didn’t work, and Matsui blasted one of the few pitches he saw from Saunders. With Jose Molina as Matsui’s replacement in the lineup, the swing in line-up value is immense.

Then, late in the game with the Yanks down 3-1, Girardi made a few questionable decisions. While Alfredo Aceves has not thrown since Sept. 14, Girardi went with Brian Bruney, and while Bruney has a new number, his results were the same. He gave up a towering home run to Kendy Morales and should not pitch in any meaningful situation.

After the game, Girardi defended his move, but his reasoning was unsatisfying. Claiming that the Yanks are “trying to win,” Girardi said that he prefers to bring in Aceves when they’re winning or in a one-run game. It’s hard to believe Girardi thinks this excuse flies. Keeping the game close is just as important as closing the door, and the Yanks should not be pigeon-holing their relievers as Girardi seemed to say they do.

While Matsui’s home run brought the Bombers back to within one, Girardi went with Jonathan Albaladejo in the 8th. The mediocre reliever gave up another run to ice the game for the Angels. I know the Yankees don’t need to win right now, but they need to start preparing for October. They have 11 games to improve their play, and this game won’t go down as a shining moment.

Right now, Kenny Singleton and Michael Kay are discussing how the Yanks are on auto-pilot. They’re in the playoffs, and they’ll probably have the best record in the AL. But a crisp, well-played and well-managed finish to the season would do wonders for the team’s and the fan’s confidence.

We’ll do it again later tonight at 10:10 p.m. Chad Gaudin will pitch for the fourth spot in the playoff rotation, and he’ll face Ervin Santana. Let’s hope the bats — and Zack Greinke — show up.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. Dela G says:


    that’s what i feel about this game

  2. handtius says:

    man, you must have had that written out a while ago. got it up fast. you damned the yankees from the get go?

  3. Moshe Mandel says:

    Resting Matsui after 7 straight starts is not a big deal, and getting Molina in against the Angel running game is a plus. The bullpen usage was a bit puzzling.

  4. Bob Stone says:

    Ben Kabak wrote in hisusual excellent game summary:

    “For reasons unknown, Robb Quinlan wasn’t holding Jeter on, and while Johnny Damon scorched the ball down the first base line, Quinlan nabbed it on a dive. Had he been holding Jeter on, the Yanks would have had second and third with no one out.”

    At the time, during the game, the YES announcers (I don’t remember which one) said that, as a matter of regular strategy, Scioscia has his first baseman hold the runner by standing in front of him off the bag.

  5. Salty Buggah says:

    Hehe, I know the ESPN hate is sometimes overstated but check this out. On the MLB page, the 1st story is “Yanks fail to clinch playoff spot in loss to Angels.” However, there is not a single mention of the Sawx blowing one to KC.

  6. Drew says:

    Holy shit, watching AP’s postgame. Did anyone see Hinske’s tattoo? That thing is giant.

  7. Bob Stone says:

    The KC win against the BoSox was a sweet, unexpected gift, especially after KC was down 6-0. KC has been playing better lately, winning 11 of their last 14 games. And it hasn’t all been against losing teams . . . they now have wins against LA and Boston in that improbable streak.

  8. handtius says:

    Did anyone see Hinkie’s back during Pettitte’s interview. Thought he was wearing a crazy graphic-T. turned out to be his Tattoo. His whole back was cover. Crazy. Looked like it was in the middle of being worked on.

  9. stuart says:

    morales hit the homer.

    bruney has been given ample time to prove anything , but the bottom line is he sucks plain and simple…

    cano cannot hit with RISP. 204 for the yr. at some point we have to say what is reality, this guy has a terrible hitting IQ nad succeeeds only because of his talent but has no clue when it counts.. Yea he has gotten a few big hits, but I would bet he drives in a below avg. # of his opptys. and is a 7th in the order or lower hitter…

    good night with RISP, that is a endless theme with this team…

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      I understand you’re frustration. But I wouldn’t say it’s time to write Cano off completely. Remember last year when he just flat out didn’t hit? Well, he’s hitting this year. So maybe next year he’ll take the next step. He’s just too damn talented to write off.

    • Jamal G. says:

      Robinson Cano with runners in scoring position:

      2008: .263/.294/.359
      2007: .290/.333/.441
      2006: .306/.335/.500
      2005: .210/.241/.363

      Do you know why there is such large fluctuations in those numbers? It is because it’s an absolutely, positvely, worhtless, fucking situational statistic that can not be used to evaluate a single fucking thing of merit.

    • jim p says:

      Not just in scoring position. Cano is .258 with runners on at all. That includes .340 with a man on 1st. Exclude that and for every other combination of men on he is hitting .181.

      Maybe he should go into the 2nd spot in the order, try and get him more fastballs.

      • Chris says:

        Not just in scoring position. Cano is .258 with runners on at all. That includes .340 with a man on 1st.

        Not really. The men-on situations can be broken into 2 groups: man on first only and RISP. He’s hitting .340 with a man on first and .209 with RISP. So the problem is only with RISP.

  10. Honestly, why can we not finish the season strong. I understand that Anaheim has a really good ball club, but we are the Yankees. We need to win the division in style, not by the skin of our teeth.

  11. Bob Stone says:

    If, by some strange quirk of fate, we ended up tied with the BoSox (Yes – I kknow it’s almost impossible), the tiebreaker is the head-to-head record. The Yanks are 6-9 vs. the Sox so a sweep would only matter if the two teams ended up tied. If the teams end up tied in regular season record and head-to-head and that tie record was the best in the American League, I think, (but I haven’t looked it up), that they play a one game playoff to determine both the division title and home field advantage.

    Other than that, a sweep would be great just because it feels so good to stick it to the BoSox.

  12. stuart says:

    Jamal it is not a stupid stat… Hitting with RISP over the 4 yrs you jsut printed shows me what I thought. Cano is a bad hitter when it counts, he is impatient, tries to pull everything, and tries to be a hero…

    Bottom line over a 4 yr period his avg with no one on base is much much higher then with RISp, if that stat does not matter hit him 3rd!!!!!!!They will not do that because the stat matters……………….

  13. mtrico says:

    I just don’t see the Yankees beating Anaheim in a post season series, but I guess that’s why they play the games. No way to be optimistic about that matchup however.

    • The Yanks are 3-5 against Anaheim this year. Let’s see how the next two games unfold. Would you be pessimistic or noncommittal if the Yanks end the season 5-5 against the Angels or even 4-6 with 5 of the losses coming in Anaheim?

      • ARX says:

        Assuming its the ALCS (I think its possible for us to face the in the ALDS if we’re the wild card…but lets not even go there) sure, the Yankees can win…but would I be feeling 100% optimistic if the series were, say, tied 1-1 heading to Anaheim for 3? No. If that makes me a bad fan/bridge jumper, so be it. But I would feel much better if the Sox whip the Angels’ asses again and eliminate that possibility altogether :)

        • TheLastClown says:

          Can you hear your own screams of inanity reflected back at you from the oncoming water?

          If not, you’re not a bridge jumper.

        • I don’t think that makes you a bridge-jumping. I think we need to see how these two games unfold first. The Angels weren’t that impressive tonight. The Yanks were just worse.

          • Chris says:

            I think that these games are irrelevant in regards to assessing the Yankees post season chances against the Angels. The Yankees vs the Indians in 2007 should be proof enough of that.

          • I think we need to see how these two games unfold first.

            False. We can lose both of these games in fantastic, 20-1 fashion and drop the season series to 3-7 and we still start the ALCS against the Angels tied at 0-0.

            No playoff team has ever been eliminated from the playoffs in September.

      • Todd says:

        Ben, ultimately your are right. But let’s be real, the way the yankees have performed against the Angels is cause for at least a little bit of concern. I live in So Cal and do not even go to the games anymore because, trust me, being heckled by Angels fans is no fun. Especially when they win almost everytime the Yanks come to town. At some point, it does become a little bit more than “narrative.”

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      I disagree. Especially if the Yanks have home field. The Angels pitching simply is not what it has been in the past. But Saunders certainly deserves his props tonight.

    • TheLastClown says:

      That’s cause you can’t see IPK coming in & pulling an ’07 Hughes.

      It’s ok, the gift of clairvoyance isn’t universal.

  14. TheLastClown says:

    Yes, unfortunate all around, but on a bit of an aside.

    I went to the game this evening, and as I ducked out circa 5th inning, and asked another wearing a Yankee cap if he had a light to lend to my smoke, we got to talking about all things Yankee.

    He said a few catchwords from your piece on Aroldis Chapman from earlier in the day. I said, “Hey, do you read River Ave Blues? I think I read the same article.”

    He confessed. He reads it all the time, doesn’t post, but I thought I’d pass it on to you that L.A. (or OC) folks are reading, even if some of them are not posting, and you guys are aces, so far as Yankee bloggage is concerned.

    • I love this story. Thanks for sending it along.

    • Thirty5Thirty6 says:


      I’m from Southern California, and while I don’t post frequently, I do read this many times a day. By far my most visited site. I have read almost every post, as well as, almost every comment for the past two years. This site and MLBTR got me away from using the baseball card statistics. You guys do a fantastic job. Thank you.

      While this past week as been frustrating, I am not worried one bit. I would rather them play like this a few weeks before the post-season, then in the post-season.

  15. BigBlueAL says:

    I dont know what to think about the ALCS opponent for the Yankees (assuming of course they win the division).

    The Red Sox to me are a much better team than the Angels and will most likely kick their ass in the playoffs anyway. Yet I think/feel that the Yankees have a much better chance of beating the Red Sox than the Angels in the ALCS. Yankees-Red Sox would be a great, epic, drama-filled ALCS, which is exactly why I dont want to play them because the 2003/2004 ALCS were so emotional that I dont think I can handle a series like that again.

    Losing to the Angels really doesnt hurt at all, just frustrating. Losing to the Red Sox of course is the worst thing that can happen and literally ruins your life for a day or two, or 100. So who would you guys root for in the ALDS between the Angels and Red Sox?? BTW I know this is really looking far ahead but if the Yankees cant beat the AL Central winner in the ALDS, well I dont want to even consider that scenario….

    • Bob Stone says:

      Definitely want to see the Red Sox beat the Angels and play the Yankees in the ALCS. There is nothing better than that (2004 notwithstanding).

      • ARX says:

        Agreed…reluctantly, since the only thing more tiresome than Yanks vs Sox x18 is Yanks/Sox x25 (since you just know they’ll go 7 games, you just know it.)

    • TheLastClown says:

      I watch & enjoy those ALDS games because if the Sox beat the Angels, then we’ve got *as you said* a highly emotional series on our hands, which I welcome with open arms.

      Beating the Sox in the ALCS will be wonderful. Just saying.

      But, if the Angels win, I’ll be able to go to an ALCS game, being that I live in LA & have, shall we say, access to a ticket or two.

      Unfortunately, the Yankees are about 1-10 in games that I have attended @ Angel Stadium, but sucks to correlative evidence.

      So I’ll hope for a 5 game ALDS set, in which the Winner’s BP is taxed and they’ve had to use their top two starters twice.

      • BigBlueAL says:

        Beating the Sox in the ALCS would be more than wonderful but losing to them is just almost too much to handle. Unlike many here I totally respect the Red Sox and fear the shit out of them.

        Of course the possibility of another dramatic 2003 Game 7 type walk-off to win the series would be so amazing….

      • Thirty5Thirty6 says:

        The Yankees are 10-2 when I go to the Big A, including a 2005 ADLS game. However, they have lost the last two times I have gone to see them, the latest being a walk-off.

    • Thirty5Thirty6 says:

      I would love for the Yankees to face the Sox in the ALCS. However, being from Southern California, I’m hoping for and Angels v. Yankees ALCS. That way I can make it to a game or two, and rub in in the faces of those bandwagon fans. I would also love to face the Dodgers, as well, except for the rubbing it in the faces of the fans. They stab bitches there.

  16. Pasqua says:

    Slowest. Clinch. Ever.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Yeah. I’m not thrilled with the way they’re backing into the playoffs, but as long as they can avoid losing home field (which they should be able to, as long as they take at least one from the Angels), I can live with it.

      The worst part about losing the division would be losing home field. I could live with it, otherwise. See: 2006 Tigers

    • See 2000 Yankees.

      That team lost seven in a row to end the season and clinched when the Red Sox lost. It was rather ugly.

  17. steve s says:

    I thought I was a crazy Yankee fan but all you posters above who continue on way past the end of a West Coast game (especially a losing game) are much more deserving of that moniker than myself. Ben’s summary says it all for me (especially the Girardi “questionable moves” part). Also, is it against the laws of nature to take a 3-1 pitch? I was half-asleep but I do believe that the batter before each Yankee HR had a 3-1 count and swung and made out (I’m sure about Tex before Arod’s HR but not 100% sure about Melky before Matsui’s HR). A walk and a blast is as good as a bloop and a blast.

  18. toad says:

    Claiming that the Yanks are “trying to win,” Girardi said that he prefers to bring in Aceves when they’re winning or in a one-run game.

    Can someone explain this? What is the strategic thinking behind this practice?

  19. Nady Nation says:

    To me, by far the most important aspect of this game was Andy’s performance. The fact that he was able to throw 6 innings and feel fine afterwards was huge, in terms of the big picture. The outcome of the game was secondary. Plus, he looked pretty good once he settled down after the first inning. As frustrating as it is to lose to the Angels yet again, Pettitte’s health was the biggest storyline of the game. Sure, we’re struggling a bit right now, but that’s the beauty of being 40 games over .500 – you can afford little bumps in the road like this in September and not have to worry too much about the standings.

  20. Bo says:

    I’d love to hear Girardi’s explanation as to why he used Bruney and Albadejo when he has Hughes collecting dust in the pen. Maybe they’re having tryouts for the last pen spot.

    • He basically gave it when asked about Aceves. He says he prefers to use some relievers when up in the game or maybe in a tie situation and others when losing. I don’t know why managers do not grasp that keeping the score close is just as important as holding a lead. Unless he is hurt, Aceves should have been pitching.

    • pat says:

      Hughes won’t be able to pitch every high leverage inning in the playoffs.. it would be nice to have another guy or two you can trust in that spot no? Id rather Bruny give up meatballs now than in the playoffs.

  21. pat says:

    The cure for what ails us will be beating the sh*t out of the Twins in the ALDS.

    • Makavelli says:

      The 2009 Twins seem a lot like the 2007 Indians to me. We beat them around during the regular season…but they have some mashers on the club and some slashers…as well as some decent pitching. I wouldn’t underestimate them…especially with the streak they’re having.

  22. Makavelli says:

    The Yankees have lost 9 of their last 10 in Anaheim and are 18-9 against the Angels as a whole since 2007.

    Why?!?? Both teams have changed over the years…I never understood this. Is it just Mike Scoscia knows our routines and plays against us accordingly?

  23. toad says:

    By the way, I really would have preferred this shot of Yogi.

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