Was there any doubt, albeit with the worst called 3rd strike in history, that the Yankees wouldn't rally for a win on Saturday? Was there any doubt that they wouldn't on Sunday either. You take the combination of the Angels, who the Yankees just can't seem to beat, add in a team that has no grit, no fire, and basically sucks at the moment, and it all adds up to another loss and another game further back in the loss column.
Mike Mussina looked like a man on his last leg, or in his case, his last arm, in his last 2 starts. Yesterday he had what it took against a free swinging Angels that was off-balance all afternoon. In fact he struck out the first four batters of the game for the 2nd time in his career. Everything was great until Mussina was removed from the ball game.
Wil Nieves, who had 1 hit this season entering Sunday's action, had a pair of RBI singles and the Yankees lead 2-1 after 6. After striking out Gary Matthews Jr. to start the 7th, Mussina's 95th pitch was ball four to Casy Kotchman. Joe Torre called on Scott Proctor, who in the grand tradition of the 2007 bullpen, threw grease on the fire.
Howie Kendrick doubled into the left field corner to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. Torre decided to keep the infield back, conceding the tying run to not allow a bigger inning. The only problem is that the ball has to be put in play for that to happen.
Proctor walked Mike Napoli to load the bases. Then pinch-hitter Erick Aybar had a tremendous at-bat, finally walking to force in the tying run. One thinks after giving up a double and back-to-back walks, a call to the bullpen may be in order. But Joe Torre can mismanage as well as anyone and he left Proctor in one batter too many. Chone Figgins drew another walk to force in yet another run and the Yankees were in a 3-2 hole. Torre finally sent for Brian Bruney, who surrendered a sac fly by Reggie Willits before ending the inning.
Trailing 4-2 in the 9th, the Yankees tried to mount a rally against Francisco Rodriguez. Bobby Abreu lead off with a walk and pinch-hitter Jorge Posada followed with a single. Johnny Damon's ground out moved both runners up, giving the Yankees 2 shots to tie the game. Though Nieves had been removed from the game when Damon pinch-hit, Torre HAD to go to a pinch-runner with the incredibly slow footed Posada on 2nd. And of course he didn't.
Melky Cabrera's hard liner to right nearly went over the Tommy Murphy's outstretched glove. Instead Abreu scored and Posada moved up to 3rd. That left it up to the captain. Derek Jeter had a hard fought at-bat against K-Rod, but finally flied out to deep right-center to end the ball game and drop the Yankees to just 1 game from the basement.
Derek Jeter had his 19 game hitting streak end on Saturday, but came right back with a hit in Sunday's game. He's had a hit in 40 of 42 games.
Robinson Cano doubled to extend his streak to 11 games.