Well, that sucked.
A.J. Burnett had a lot going for him through the first five innings. He had allowed only five hits, all of which were singles, did not walk a batter, and struck out six Angels. But the sixth inning wasn't his.
Bobby Abreu led off the inning with a Yankee Stadium homer, a line drive that hardly reached the first row in right field. Following a Torii Hunter flyout, Mark Trumbo walked and tagged up on a long fly ball off the bat of Vernon Wells.
With two outs and first base open, the Yankees intentionally walked Maicer Izturis, who was 2-for-2 at the time, a move I disagreed with. Izturis doesn't have the kind of bat that will change the outcome of a game (5 HRs, .713 OPS coming into tonight), and I hardly ever like the idea of instructing a pitcher to intentionally miss the strike zone four times.
Following the intentional walk, Burnett walked Peter Bourjos to load the bases, and Jeff Mathis made him pay by crushing a hanging slider for a ground-rule double over the head of Curtis Granderson to give the Angels a 3-1 lead. A wild pitch from Burnett made the score 4-1, and Erick Aybar lined out to finally end the inning.
With Dan Haren cruising, the three run deficit seemed difficult to overcome. With two outs and no one on in the seventh inning, Curtis Granderson's first inning homer was all the Yankees could brag about. But Russell Martin's double gave the inning some hope, and Eduardo Nunez drove him in with a bloop single to right to cut the lead to 4-2.
Brett Gardner's single pushed Nunez to third and chased Haren in the process, forcing Fernando Rodney to enter the game earlier than expected. With Derek Jeter batting, Gardner stole second base to set up second and third with two outs, and the Captain delivered with a game tying single, knocking Rodney out of the game.
Hisanori Takahashi entered the game to face Curtis Granderson, and struck him out.
With a two out rally, the game was back to square one.
In the eighth, David Robertson tossed a 1-2-3 inning, and Scott Downs escaped a first and second, 2-out jam by getting Russell Martin to ground into a fielder's choice.
Mariano Rivera entered the game to pitch the ninth, and served up a two-run homer off the bat of Bobby Abreu, his second of the game.
I really hate the idea that the closer has to pitch the ninth inning of a tie game at home. David Robertson had only thrown twelve pitches in the eighth, and was very effective. Getting a second inning from Robertson allows Mo to enter the game later, essentially making the bullpen deeper. There was no need to burn through relievers.
However, it is hard to fault Girardi for using Rivera. I just disagree with his choice of when to use him.
In the bottom of the ninth, Eduardo Nunez led off with a single and stole second base. After Brett Gardner swung at ball four for strike three, Derek Jeter walked to bring Curtis Granderson to the plate as the winning run.
Granderson barely beat out a near game-ending double play ball to give Mark Teixeira a chance, but Granderson idiotically got fooled by the old Jeff Nelson, picked off to end the game. Why he was running, I have no clue. There was no reason to risk taking the bat out of Teixeira's hands, but Granderson did just that.
Unbelievable. The Yankees had multiple chances to take the lead and eventually win this game throughout the last three innings, but were unable to do so. To lose the game the way they did was heartbreaking.
This hurts now, but tomorrow is another day.
Play of the Game: Abreu's 9th inning homer (42.2%).