Hunter helps Angels bag Yankees 10-5
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Los Angeles Angels show no signs of slowing down or pacing themselves for the playoffs—not even with a season-high 13-game lead in the AL West.
“There’s no way we’re going to get relaxed,” Hunter said. “We’re professional players. I mean, if you find somebody that says, ‘Aw, we’re comfortable and these games right now don’t matter,’ I will slap them right now. Every day as a professional player, you try to win every day. And that’s what we’re doing.”
Vladimir Guerrero had three hits and scored three runs for the Angels. Everyone in the starting lineup contributed to the 17-hit attack except leadoff batter Chone Figgins, who was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
“That team is so good. I mean, they can grind you to death,” Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon said. “They take pitches, they battle—and Figgins wasn’t even a part of this equation tonight. So we were fortunate that way.”
The Angels have 47 games remaining, 10 of them against second-place Texas. But no one in the organization is admitting that they have their fourth division title in five years wrapped up—least of all owner Arte Moreno.
“You’ve got to play them all out,” Moreno said. “We’re very comfortable with who we are and what we’re doing, but I think it was 1978 that Boston coughed up a 14-game lead to the Yankees and lost in a one-game playoff to a Bucky Dent home run. In ’95, the Angels spit up an 11-game lead in mid-August, and last year you saw what happened to the Mets down the stretch. So nothing’s a lock.”
The Yankees, who are trying to tie Atlanta’s major league record of 14 consecutive postseason appearances, remain three games behind Boston in the Wild Card race. They are 5-8 following their eight-game winning streak coming out of the All-Star break.
Trailing 6-3 entering the sixth, New York got a run closer on Nady’s 18th homer and fifth in 13 games since joining the Yankees in a trade with Pittsburgh. Robinson Cano followed with a triple off the right field wall and scored on Melky Cabrera’s groundout.
“No lead is safe with those guys. They could go off at any time,” Weaver said. “I left a couple of pitches out over the plate that I wish I could take back.”
But the Angels broke it open in the seventh. Hunter led off with his 19th homer, Jeff Mathis doubled home a run, pinch-runner Reggie Willits scored on Brian Bruney’s wild pitch and Mark Teixeira capped the rally with an RBI single. Willits left the game with a concussion following his collision at home plate with Jose Molina.
Ian Kennedy (0-4) retired only six of the 16 batters he faced, giving up five runs and nine hits in two-plus innings. The right-hander, beginning his third stint with the Yankees this season, was recalled from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre on Thursday when right-hander Joba Chamberlain went on the disabled list with tendinitis in his rotator cuff.
Kennedy came out with a 5-3 deficit after giving up hits to the first five Angels batters in the third, including RBI singles by Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Kendrick. Anderson extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
The Yankees had taken a 3-2 lead in the top half on a bases-loaded walk to Jason Giambi and an RBI single by Nady, whose dribbler hugged the third base line until it hit the bag. The rally included Bobby Abreu’s 445th career double.
Rodriguez, 0-for-14 in the Yankees’ four-game split at Texas, drove Weaver’s 3-2 pitch over the double-decker bullpen leading off the second to trim the Angels’ lead to 2-1. Last Saturday at Yankee Stadium, Rodriguez hit one of four home runs Weaver surrendered in New York’s 8-2 win.
A-Rod’s 544th home run put the three-time AL MVP within four of tying Mike Schmidt for 12th place on the career list. But his major league-record streak of 10 consecutive seasons with at least 35 home runs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored is in serious jeopardy. He has 26 homers, 68 RBIs and 71 runs scored with 46 games remaining.
Hunter opened the scoring in the first with a two-run double to left-center that sent Damon crashing into the fence, causing one of the padded panels to swing open. Damon’s left shoulder took the brunt of the impact and he appeared shaken up, but stayed in the game.
He won’t start in left on Saturday, but manager Joe Girardi had him scheduled to be the DH.
“I might have blacked out for a second,” Damon said. “I wasn’t sure if Melky hit me or the wall. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to throw the ball right after that.”
The Yankees played their first game in Anaheim with someone other than Joe Torre as their manager since Aug. 20, 1995. … The Angels were the only team to have a winning record against the Yankees during Torre’s 12 seasons as manager (61-55). They were 6-3 against New York in the playoffs during that time, winning the AL division series in 2002 and 2005. … Abreu leads the Yankees with 76 RBIs, eight more than Rodriguez. The last time the Yankees did not have any players with 100 or more RBIs in a non-strike season was 1992, when Don Mattingly led them with 86.