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Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Bad Call Fuels Angels Sweep: Angels 4, Yankees 3

A-Rod sat and argued a while after third base umpire Bill Welke ruled him out on a caught stealing 2-5 in the eighth, as did manager Joe Girardi. It didn't help either of them, but it did cost the Yanks a run and possibly the game had A-Rod been ruled safe, as Xavier Nady worked a walk, and Robinson Cano flied out to left. That would have made it 4-3 Yankees, and brought the Yankees closer Mariano Rivera into the game to start the ninth. Who knows but that the first two batters of that inning don't reach, but all that falls into the same bucket as "what if the South had won?" speculative fiction. As it was, the Halos escaped with Cano flying out to left to end the frame with nobody in scoring position.

A-Rod, however, was wrong about one thing: Welke was not, as he claimed, in a good position to read the play:

“It was 100 percent the right move to make. I mean, on the road, you have to play to win,” Rodriguez said. “I had a good jump, the catcher made a perfect throw, I stole the base—and everyone knows that. The umpire had great position on it. He just simply missed it.”
Welke in fact was behind Chone Figgins on the play, and had his view of the non-tag obscured, so he apparently decided the call based on when the catch was made, slightly ahead of A-Rod's arrival at the bag. But Figgins didn't quite make the tag, and it changed the game immediately. (Update 8/11: Having seen the replay of the tag in slow motion from the home plate side, it's not nearly as clear that A-Rod was safe. So maybe Welke did make the right call.)

The Angels, going into the top of the ninth with the game still tied at 3-3, worked men on first and second with a leadoff single by Howie Kendrick off Damaso Marte (still in the game after pitching a scoreless eighth) and a full-count walk by Mike Napoli, the three-true-outcomes hero, the only three-true-outcome that day for the Napster. That brought in Rivera, and Chone Figgins greeted him with a first-pitch single that dribbled up between first and second to drive in the winning run. The postgame show said that either of Wilson Betemit (brought into the game for Richie Sexson as a pinch hitter in the ninth) or Robinson Cano could have retrieved it; one of the Yankees fans we descended the ramps with bitterly decried Cano's lack of an attempt as "waiting to get back to his Cadillac". Though I didn't think either of them really had a shot at the ball, there was a certain aspect of it that appeared they knew they were beaten.

Both starters for the Yanks and Angels pitched well, getting seven innings of three-run ball each, though Andy Pettite was a little the worse for baserunners as he gave up ten hits and a walk, while Joe Saunders gave up six hits and three walks. Joe Saunders looked like he was in for a long one when he gave up two runs in the first with nobody out, but his infield defense got him out of it with a 5-2 fielder's choice at the plate on Nady's bouncer, and Cano's 4-6-3 double play to end the frame.

The Angels did all their damage against Pettitte in the third, starting with an infield single by Gary Matthews, Jr. followed up by Mike Napoli's double. Napoli, a late replacement for Jeff Mathis, ripped the ball down the left field line, setting up an infield single by Chone Figgins, who cashed in Matthews. The last run came in on a Mark Teixeira sac fly, plating Figgins, but that was the end of the Angels' threat, as the remaining two went down in order.

Wow. What. A. Game.

Update: First sweep of the Yanks at home since 1996.

Update 2: Andy Pettitte openly wonders whether the Yanks will be out of it by the time the Yanks return to Angel Stadium later in the month:

It was an innocent assumption, and for Andy Pettitte to challenge it said a lot about the psyche of his dazed team. The Yankees had just been swept by the Los Angeles Angels, and Pettitte was reminded that the teams will meet again for three crucial games in September.

“I hope so,” Pettitte said. “I hope it’s real crucial. I hope we come in here and we’re right there and we need to win games.”


Sunday’s loss was as perplexing as it was frustrating. The Angels won on Chone Figgins’s ninth-inning dribbler through the right side of the infield on Mariano Rivera’s only pitch of the series. It scored Howie Kendrick from second base, and few could fathom that the game was over.

Robinson Canó, the second baseman, said he was playing Figgins up the middle because he is not a pull hitter. Wilson Betemit, the inexperienced first baseman, said he immediately retreated to the bag because he assumed Canó would field the ball.

Rivera said he thought it would be a routine out, and he made his way to cover first for the flip from Betemit. Then he saw the ball hop into the outfield and Kendrick race home.

“I was shocked,” Rivera said, and the Angels shared the feeling. Torii Hunter told The Los Angeles Times that he and his teammates were wondering where Canó was.

Yahoo boxMLB.com recap

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On Thursday, August 21 the Dodgers play at Dodger Stadium at Noon and the Angels play at Angels Stadium at 7 PM. Has this ever happened before?
You mean both teams at home on the same day, or staggered for a getaway day for one team and not the other?

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