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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Palmer Pitches The Game Of His Life: Angels 8, Yankees 4

Matt Palmer took a game that looked — based on the marquee Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia — like it should have been a wipeout match, and flipped it into the game of his life, holding the Yanks to a single run over six and a third innings, doing an amazing job, considering. He'll get yet another start for sure, and given how things are going in the bullpen, I wouldn't be surprised to see him land there once Lackey and Santana (and maybe Escobar) return to the rotation.

Incredibly, the Angels actually managed to win despite an incredibly bad call from home plate umpire Dana Demuth in the bottom of the sixth, who gave a check swing call on a two-strike pitch to Derek Jeter despite subsequent video that showed he had clearly not only swung but gone all the way around and then some. Of course, he then proceeded to hit a ground-rule double. After Johnny Damon moved him over to third on a groundout, Mark Teixeira came to the plate and promptly popped out to Gary Matthews, Jr. in right — which prompted a torrent of boos from the apparently ill-mannered Yankee fans. I hope $180M is good compensation...

The Angels amazingly got to Sabathia in the sixth with a Kendry Morales scoring groundout to tie it, and then in the seventh the heavens opened — relatively speaking — with the Angels scoring four to take a 5-1 lead. Unfortunately, Mike Napoli managed to erase himself from the basepaths to end the frame, but as it turned out, it didn't much matter. The eighth brought another gift from Kendry, a solo blast that got dumped into the home bullpen; the Angels tacked on a couple more on a sloppy play by Melky Cabrera in right when he overran a routine single by Juan Rivera, allowing two runs to score and Rivera to take second.

Offensively, that was it for the Angels. With the Yanks taking up the bat in the bottom of the frame and the 5-6-7 batters coming up, Mike Scioscia elected to put Fernando Rodriguez in for his maiden outing in the majors. He got the first batter he faced, Robinson Cano, in fairly short order, but he walked Melky Cabrera. Retiring the easily-struck-out Angel Berroa on a K, he then gave up a home run to Jorge Posada and walked nine-hole hitter Brett Gardner. A less patient manager would have given him the hook at that moment, but Scioscia seems to have a long leash these days, and so when Derek Jeter hit a long flyball out to right that should have been the game, it was looking like he might have a modestly successful first game. Unfortunately, Gary Matthews, Jr. misjudged the ball, and it bounced off his glove; and so Jason Bulger — Jason Bulger! — had to come in and save the day, striking out Johnny Damon to end things. Whew.

One final word of praise to Palmer: whatta game, kid. I have a feeling he'll be the Angels' answer to Aaron Small in his 2005 with the Yanks, when he had a phenomenal season, and then turned back into a pumpkin. However it breaks, I'm happy he's doing well right now when the Angels need all the good pitching they can get.

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