Yanks send Angels message with win over nemesis
"It's like a merry-go-round," he said in July. "They just keep coming at you."
The Yankees, for one night, or at least in the eighth inning, were able to do something similar to a team that has tormented them like no other this decade.
In a game that felt like more than a simple makeup of a rainout, the Yankees beat the Angels, 5-3, last night at the Stadium, scoring the go-ahead run on a sequence Angels opponents, especially those wearing pinstripes, have seen many times.
After Phil Hughes let the Angels tie it at 3 in the eighth with a run, the Yankees scored twice in the bottom half.
Mark Teixeira, who hit a two-run triple in the fifth, ripped a one-out double into the rightfield corner. Rodriguez walked and Brett Gardner ran for Teixeira. Gardner took off for third and Rodriguez for second, and catcher Mike Napoli's throw skipped into left. Gardner scored to make it 4-3 and, after Hideki Matsui struck out, Robinson Cano brought in A-Rod with a single up the middle to make it 5-3.
"Team speed really helps," Teixeira said. "When you have a chance to push the envelope and force the action, errors happen. Sometimes bad throws happen and you score cheap runs and that's what we did tonight."
Said Joe Girardi: "It not only puts pressure on the defense, it puts pressure on the pitcher, too, where you try to take his attention a little bit away from the hitter and maybe they make a mistake.
"Gardy has that element . . . and it worked out. When the third baseman's playing off the line, it's a tough throw."
Mariano Rivera, who had not pitched in six days, walked a batter with two outs in the ninth but earned his 40th save, converting his 36th straight opportunity.
The Yankees (93-52) moved six games ahead of the Angels (86-57) in the race for the American League's best record and home-field advantage. The Yankees, who are 3-4 against the Angels, start a three-game series in Anaheim on Monday.
Teixeira, who hit a two-run triple in the fifth despite his bat clipping the catcher's mitt, is rarely taken out of games.
"That was definitely the right move," Teixeira said of Gardner's insertion. "It's a great opportunity for us to maybe push it a little bit and that's what we did."
Gardner knew he replaced Teixeira for only one reason. "They obviously didn't put me out there to score on a single," Gardner said. "They told me to take a chance."
Joba Chamberlain, in his fourth start since his "rules" were redone, pitched well. After going three innings in each of his previous three starts, he went four, allowing a run and four hits, the run on a monstrous homer by Vladimir Guerrero.
"If you're going to give them up, give them up big," Chamberlain said with a smile. "I'd rather give up that than a wall-scraper."
It was a jovial atmosphere afterward, with the Yankees clearly pleased at beating a team that has caused them so many problems, this year and in years past.
"It was good to have a nice game today so everyone can know we can play well against the Angels," Teixeira said.
"I think our guys understood the impact of this game, that there was a two-game swing in a sense," Girardi said. "They understood."